Our Matrix-M™ adjuvant technology

Novavax vaccines incorporate our unique Matrix adjuvant.

An adjuvant is an ingredient in a vaccine that enhances the immune system’s response to that vaccine. Adjuvants help the immune system better recognize what’s in a vaccine and remember it longer, increasing the amount of time that a vaccine may offer protection.1,4

What is Matrix adjuvant?

Our proprietary Matrix adjuvant is a key element of Novavax’s technology platform. When combined with our protein nanoparticles, it has been shown to enhance the immune system response to our vaccines.2

Matrix adjuvant is derived from saponins, naturally occurring compounds in the bark of the Quillaja saponaria (Soapbark) tree, native to Chile. Saponins have a long history of being used for their medicinal properties and are a component in several licensed vaccines.1

Quilliaja saponaria (Soapbark) tree. Bark containing saponins.
Novavax develops Matrix adjuvants for both human (Matrix-M) and veterinary (Matrix-V) applications. Matrix adjuvants are produced through a unique process that results in very small, spherical particles that resemble a honeycomb-like structure when viewed through a high-power microscope. These Matrix-M adjuvant particles are smaller than a human hair.
How it works

Matrix-M has a well-understood mechanism of action and robust clinical experience showing it to be well tolerated in human studies, including in more than 50K recipients to-date across Phase 1-3 trials.4

Matrix-M adjuvant has been shown to induce high levels of broadly neutralizing antibodies and enhance B- and T-cell immunity, believed to increase immune memory and durability of immune response.5

By enhancing the immune response, Matrix-M enables the potential to use less antigen per dose, also known as dose-sparing.5 This combination of potency and dose-sparing creates the potential for combination vaccines6 that could help protect against multiple diseases in a single shot with less pain and discomfort.7

  1. Pulendran B, et al. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2021;20(6):454–475.
  2. Keech C, et al. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(24):2320–2332.
  3. Bonam SR, et al. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2017;38(9):771–793.
  4. Smith, Katherine et al. Safety of the NVX-CoV2373 COVID-19 vaccine in randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials. NIH. 2023 Jun 13;41(26):3930-3936. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.05.016. Epub 2023 May 10.
  5. Stertman L, Palm AE, Zarnegar B, et al. The Matrix-M™ adjuvant: A critical component of vaccines for the 21st century. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2023;19(1):2189885. doi:10.1080/21645515.2023.2189885
  6. Gupta, Rajesh et al. The Role of Adjuvants and Delivery Systems in Modulation of Immune Response to Vaccines.  Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996:397:105-13. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4899-1382-1_15.
  7. Combination Vaccines. CDC. August 2019. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/why-vaccinate/combination-vaccines.html [Accessed 21 May 2024].

A brief history of adjuvants in vaccine technology

The first adjuvant was added to a vaccine more than 100 years ago, improving the strength and duration of immune protection.1 Today, adjuvants are frequently used in protein-based vaccines.1,3 Novavax developed its own adjuvant technology, known as Matrix-M, to use within our protein-based vaccines. Novavax AB, our subsidiary in Uppsala, Sweden has more than 20 years of experience creating and advancing saponin-based adjuvants. 

Additional reading

Additional reading

Novavax's protein-based nanoparticle vaccine platform, combined with our Matrix-M adjuvant, results in vaccine candidates that may help provide immunity against a variety of infectious diseases.

Recombinant, protein-based nanoparticle vaccine technology

Check out our pipeline to find out what we are working on and how we’re aiming to change the future of infectious diseases.

Our pipeline—creating tomorrow's vaccines today