Bionor surges as PhIIb study revives big hopes for HIV vaccine

Norway's Bionor Pharma got a big boost out of the news that its HIV vaccine performed well in a new Phase IIb study, knocking down the virus by 64% when combined with an antiretroviral treatment. Its shares ($BIONOR) shot up 37% yesterday after the new data confirmed earlier trial results at UC Davis that persuaded the Norwegian vaccine developer to bring the program back from the dead.

Back in the fall of 2010 Bionor had given up on its Vacc-4x program, discouraged by its failure in a six-month study. But just weeks later Richard Pollard, head of infectious disease at the University of California Davis Center for AIDS Research, Education, and Services, reported that the vaccine triggered a plunge in viral load, and levels in patients did not swiftly climb when they were taken off the vaccine. Those results revived Bionor's hopes, and spurred them to start the latest confirmatory trial.

Now Bionor has plans for three more studies. The first will offer HIV patients multiple shots to see if it can do even better at reducing viral loads. A second will combine Vacc-4x with Revlimid to supercharge the immune system while a third matches it with a separate Bionor antibody program targeting HIV.

For now, the Oslo-based Bionor has been pursuing the HIV work on its own. But with fresh positive data it believes that a partnership is a "natural" next step.

- here's the press release
- get the story from Bloomberg