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Emergent's (EBS) Zika Vaccine Candidate Meets Study Endpoint

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Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (EBS - Free Report) along with European partner Valneva SE announced positive interim data from an early stage study on the Zika vaccine candidate, VLA1601. The candidate, currently being evaluated in a phase I study, met the primary endpoint by achieving a favorable safety profile in all doses and schedules tested.

Early data from the study also showed that VLA1601 led to a favorable immune response across all treatment groups.

VLA1601 is a highly purified inactivated vaccine, which is being developed for the prevention of infections caused by the Zika virus and the related serious implications during pregnancy. The study assessed the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine for two different doses. Final data from the study is expected in the first quarter of 2019.

In July 2017, Emergent entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Valneva for developing the latter’s Zika vaccine candidate. In February 2018, the companies initiated the above-mentioned phase I study in the United States. Per the agreement, Valneva is entirely responsible to carry out the phase I study. On completing the phase I study, Emergent will have the option to develop/commercialize the vaccine for a milestone payment of $5.7 million.

Notably in July, Emergent initiated a phase I study on its pipeline candidate, ZIKV-IG, currently under development as a therapeutic intervention against Zika virus disease. In December 2017, the FDA granted a Fast Track designation to ZIKV-IG.

Shares of Emergent have soared 50% year to date versus the industry’s decrease of 18.6%.

Another biotech company, Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO - Free Report) , is also working toward developing a Zika virus vaccine.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Emergent currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Two better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector are Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Free Report) and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN - Free Report) , both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Gilead Sciences’ earnings estimates have been revised 4.4% upward for 2018 and 4.2% for 2019 over the past 60 days.

Alexion’s earnings estimates have moved 5.3% north for 2018 and 1.9% for 2019 over the past 60 days.

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