GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB: GOVX), a biotechnology company developing human vaccines, announced today that it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with Georgia State University Research Foundation (GSU) to advance the Company’s development of a therapeutic vaccine for treatment of chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infections.
The project will include the design, construction, characterization and animal testing of multiple vaccine candidates using GeoVax’s MVA-VLP vaccine platform. Vaccine antigens include both GeoVax and GSU’s proprietary designed sequences. The vaccine design, construction, and characterization will be performed at GeoVax with further characterization and immunogenicity studies in mice conducted at GSU in collaboration with the Shenzhen Graduate School of Peking University. Unique functional assays developed by Dr. Ming Luo, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Georgia State University, and performed at Peking University will provide key information on vaccine efficacy.
Therapeutic vaccine candidates will be based upon GeoVax’s novel MVA-VLP vector platform, which has been proven safe in multiple human clinical trials of company’s preventive HIV vaccine. This platform is also being used by GeoVax to develop preventive vaccines against Zika virus and hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, and Lassa). GeoVax also recently initiated a collaborative project with The Burnet Institute to use its MVA-VLP platform to develop a vaccine to prevent malaria infection.
Farshad Guirakhoo, PhD, GeoVax’s Chief Scientific Officer, stated, “We are fortunate to have the collaboration with nearby Georgia State University and Dr. Ming Luo. The combined efforts and already defined functional assays will serve to rapidly test this innovative concept. There is a clear medical need to treat chronic HBV infections, which affect hundreds of millions of people around the world, many of whom die due to complications of HBV including cirrhosis and cancer. Multiple vaccines exist to protect against HBV infection, but they cannot help patients already diagnosed with the disease. Although chronic HBV can be treated with drugs, the treatments do not cure 95% of patients; they cannot induce strong neutralizing antibodies and cellular responses needed to break tolerance to HBV antigens and clear infections, but only suppress the replication of the virus. Therefore, most people who start treatments must continue with them for life. Moreover, diagnosis and treatment options are very limited in resource/low income-constrained populations, which leads to many patients succumbing within months of diagnosis. Our strategy is to use our multi-antigen therapeutic vaccine in combination with the standard-of-care treatment to induce functional antibodies and CD4+, CD8+ T cell responses to clear infection and potentially break tolerance. Our goal is to significantly increase the current cure rate of HBV infections while reducing the duration of drug therapy, overall treatment costs, side effects, and potential drug resistance.
Dr. Luo commented, “My team’s efforts continue to unveil the molecular mechanism of immune responses to HBV infection and we are excited to partner with GeoVax to further the development of a HBV therapeutic vaccine. By joining forces with GeoVax, we will apply our highly complementary sets of expertise in an effort to address the problem.”
Filed Under: Drug Discovery