Novavax: novel vaccine proves effective against swine flu, lifting earnings

Novavax (NVAX) shares soared some 10 percent today after the small clinical-stage biotechnology company announced positive preclinical results for its new vaccine H1N1 influenza, or swine flu.

Novovax, based in Rockville, Maryland, developed the vaccine using proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) technology. As the name suggests, the scientists develop a virus-like particle but without the genetic material that it needs to reproduce. These particles are injected as non-infectious decoys. They attach to immune cells, which mistake the particles for viruses and spark a strong immune response, the company explains. Unlike a standard influenza vaccine, which uses a weakened or dead flu virus to stimulate the immune system, the Novavax decoy cannot replicate or infect cells.