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Novavax rises on respiratory virus vaccine study

NEW YORK — Novavax Inc. on Tuesday reported positive results from an early clinical trial of a respiratory virus vaccine, sending its shares higher.

The company is studying a vaccine intended to prevent respiratory syncytial virus.

Novavax said the vaccine was linked to increased antibody responses — a sign that the vaccine was having an effect against the virus — in all groups of patients. The company said side effects occurred at the same rate in patients treated with the vaccine and patients who were given a placebo. Patients also received a seasonal flu vaccine, and Novavax said the trial results suggest it could develop a combination seasonal flu and RSV vaccine.

The trial involved 220 patients age 60 years or older.

Respiratory syncytial virus is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract illnesses in infants and young children.

The Rockville company said recurrences in adults are usually mild to moderate in severity, but they can become more dangerous in the elderly or in people with chronic heart or lung disease. Novavax said as many as 17,000 adults die of RSV in the U.S. every year and about 180,000 patients are hospitalized with respiratory symptoms.

Shares of Novavax rose 10 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $2.21 in afternoon trading. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $1.52 to $2.77.