Novavax Inc said data from a mid-stage study showed that immunizing pregnant women with its RSV vaccine was safe for fetuses and could protect infants against the common respiratory virus.
The Maryland-based biotechnology company, whose stock jumped about 8.5 percent in premarket trading on Tuesday, reported last month that a separate mid-stage study showed the vaccine was successful in protecting the elderly against the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
RSV, which primarily affects those with compromised immune systems - including young infants and the elderly - has long eluded vaccine developers due to a lack of understanding of its molecular structure.
Novavax also said it had received a grant of up to $89 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support a late-stage trial testing the vaccine in pregnant women, which is planned for the first quarter of 2016
A late-stage trial in the elderly is expected to begin later this year.
Data presented on Tuesday came from a trial which tested the vaccine against a placebo in 50 healthy pregnant women in their third trimester, and showed that women who received the placebo showed no significant change in their antibody levels.
Half of all hospitalizations due to RSV occur within first three months of birth and the vaccine demonstrates the potential to protect infants when they are most at risk, senior vice president of R&D Gregory Glenn said in a statement.
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