Novavax Terminates Negotiations with ROVI Pharmaceuticals for Influenza Vaccine Collaboration

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Novavax will discontinue negotiations for the previously announced collaboration with Madrid-based ROVI Pharmaceuticals.

Novavax, Inc. (Rockville, MD), will discontinue negotiations for the previously announced collaboration with Madrid-based ROVI Pharmaceuticals to develop Novavax's virus-like-particle (VLP)-based vaccines against influenza in Spain. The company had entered into an initial agreement to license its VLP vaccine technology to ROVI in July 2009.

The decision to terminate negotiations was made because of the companies’ inability to agree on acceptable terms of the proposed collaboration and to obtain the necessary funding commitments for the program. Novavax is free to seek a new partner for its pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine development efforts in Europe in the future.

Meanwhile, Novavax has reported additional positive data from its trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine clinical study that began in May 2009 among healthy adults, 18 to 49 years of age. The data show significant neuraminidase inhibition antibody titers in VLP vaccine recipients. The vaccine also matched the influenza strains recommended for the 2008–2009 influenza season.

Novavax produces its vaccines by using recombinant baculovirus vector and insect cell culture to produce proteins specific to the emerging influenza strain that then self-assemble into an enveloped, non-infectious VLP, similar to that used in Merck’s vaccine against human papillomavirus. The system’s high yields make it possible to produce significant quantities of vaccine using only 1,000–2,000-L disposable bioreactors, which significantly reduces the time and cost of setting up and validating a new production facility.

According to CEO Rahul Singhvi, the company is continuing to make progress with vaccine development in Mexico, India, and the US. In Mexico, Novavax is currently awaiting results from its H1N1 influenza vaccine clinical study. In India, it expects to open a VLP vaccine production facility in March and in the US, the company is awaiting results of its seasonal influenza vaccine study in the elderly.