Altimmune Becomes The Second Maryland-Based Biotech Advance Potential Coronavirus/COVID-19 Vaccine

As the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S.  — there are currently 150 confirmed cases with 11 total deaths as of this writing — several BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) life science companies are urgently pushing to develop and deploy a COVID-19 vaccine.

In another encouraging sign, Altimmune, which is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland announced that it had made progress on a potential vaccine. The company has advanced a potential single-dose, recombinant intranasal vaccine using its proprietary technology. Altimmune’s research scientists have completed the design and synthesis of the vaccine and it is now moving into animal testing. Altimmune projects that clinical testing of the coronavirus vaccine could begin as early as August 2020.

The potential new COVID-19 vaccine has been developed using the same technology that was deployed to create NasoVAX™, Altimmune’s recombinant intranasal vaccine for influenza, which is currently Phase 2A trials. NasoVAX, according to Altimmune’s recent press release, has shown “…the ability of intranasal vaccine delivery to stimulate a durable and broad immune response against the influenza virus.” The company believes that a COVID-19 vaccine delivered intranasally provides a more direct immune response to the likely point of the initial viral attack. 

Altimmune is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments for liver disease and immune-modulating therapies. The company’s diverse pipeline includes next-generation peptide therapeutics for NASH (ALT-801) and chronic hepatitis B (HepTcell™), conjugated immunostimulants for the treatment of cancer (ALT-702) and intranasal vaccines (NasoVAX™ and NasoShield™).

Last week we wrote about how Gaithersburg, Maryland’s Novavax offered a glimmer of hope amidst the deepening global health crisis. Novavax announced on February 26th, 2020, that its vaccine candidate, which was created  “…using its proprietary recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform to generate antigens derived from the coronavirus spike (S) protein” had made progress. The company expects to use “…its proprietary Matrix-M™ adjuvant with its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enhance immune responses.” 

Altimmune and Novavax’s progress on their respective, potential COVID-19 vaccines is an encouraging sign within a flood of what can seem like frightening news. COVID-19 is certainly serious and anxiety-provoking, but it’s important to keep the novel coronavirus in perspective. As of mid-February, 2020, the CDC reported that approximately 26M people had been stricken by the flu resulting in approximately 14,000 deaths and 250,000 hospital stays (Source: Red Cross).

With global cases of COVID-19 at 93,534 and a global death toll of 3,270 and rising, according to Bloomberg News as of early March 5th, rapidly advancing potential vaccines is critical to stemming the virus’s devastating impact on human health and the global economy. Experts anticipate it will take a year or more for a coronavirus vaccine to be available for use. 

Altimmune, Novavax and other BHCR organizations continue to lead the fight against COVID-19. For the best and most accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19, its impact and the latest preventative measures, BioBuzz encourages readers to avoid gathering information via social media by visiting the following legitimate online resources:

*Hackers are using Coronavirus maps to infect your computer – stay informed and practice safe browsing!

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Chris Frew
Over the past 8 years, Chris has grown BioBuzz into a respected brand that is recognized for its community building, networking events and news stories about the local biotech industry. In addition, he runs a Recruiting and Marketing Agency that helps companies attract top talent through a blended model that combines employer branding and marketing services together with a high powered recruiting solution.

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