What happened

Shares of Altimmune (ALT 0.29%) were flying 16.7% higher as of 11:27 a.m. EDT on Monday. The big jump came after the company and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) reported positive preclinical results for intranasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate AdCOVID.

So what

Altimmune and UAB reported that mice receiving AdCOVID demonstrated a "strong systemic antibody response" 14 days after receiving a single intranasal dose of the vaccine candidate. Lead investigator and UAB professor Dr. Frances Lund said, "Stimulation of immunity at this level just 14 days after a single dose is impressive for any vaccine, and is particularly notable for a potential coronavirus vaccine."

A scientist holds a mouse in her gloved hands.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that success in preclinical testing doesn't always carry over into clinical studies. Human responses to vaccine candidates can be much different than the responses in mice.

Still, the preclinical results were great news for Altimmune. The biotech doesn't have any approved products on the market. Its lead pipeline candidate, intranasal flu vaccine NasoVAX, is ready for phase 2b testing. However, Altimmune is seeking a partner to advance the clinical development of the vaccine candidate.

Now what

Another major catalyst for the biotech stock could be on the way relatively soon. Altimmune plans to begin a phase 1 study of AdCOVID in the fourth quarter of 2020.