Novavax and the US Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) have announced plans to cooperate on the evaluation of a virus-like particle (VLP) as a vaccine candidate against the influenza A (H1N1) virus.

The company produced the first batch of H1N1 VLPs in its laboratories in May, only three weeks after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the genetic sequence of the novel H1N1 virus, which was isolated from an infected person located in California.

Novavax’ VLPs contain hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA) and matrix 1 (M1) proteins, which were found in this strain.

The size and structure of the VLPs are nearly identical to those of the novel H1N1 virus, but are not infectious as they lack the genes necessary for replication.

Novavax president and CEO Rahul Singhvi said that the company’s proprietary recombinant cell culture technology had enabled production of custom VLPs against this strain of influenza within weeks.

“The company has committed necessary resources to respond as rapidly as possible to construct and manufacture a VLP vaccine against this new H1N1 influenza virus,” said Singhvi.

Purified influenza A VLPs are being sent to scientists at the CDC and DMID for studies in animal models. The company has also completed genetic engineering and manufacture of the master seed stock necessary to produce larger quantities of the investigational H1N1 VLP vaccine under cGMP conditions.