GeoVax Labs launched a promising program recently to develop a new vaccine for the treatment of chronic Hepatitis B infections.
A clinical-stage biotechnology company, GeoVax develops human vaccines against infectious diseases through its Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara –Virus-Like Particle (MVA-VLP) vaccine platform.
The new vaccine will be based upon its MVA-VLP vector platform, which has been proven safe in various human clinical studies of the company’s preventive HIV vaccine. GeoVax’s development programs are dedicated to finding vaccines against HIV, ZIKA and hemorrhagic fever viruses that include Lassa, Ebola and Marburg.
MVA-VLP vaccine platform supports the production in living subjects of non-infectious VLPs from the cells of the person who receives the vaccine. The production of VLPs in the individual being vaccinated imitates a natural infection, encouraging the immune system’s humoral and cellular arms to identify, prevent, and control the infection.
Farshad Guirakhoo, GeoVax’s senior vice president of Research and Development, said the MVA-VLP technology is well-suited to develop a vaccine against the Hepatitis B virus which affect millions of people around the world.
While it is true that many vaccines protect against Hepatis B, none help patients who already have it. Treatment is available, but the treatments are unable to cure 95% of the patients and only serve to stop the virus replication.
“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 a majority of patients succumbing within months of diagnosis,” Guirakhoo said.
He is confident that GeoVax scientists understand the disease and its many obstacles.
“Our strategy is to use our therapeutic vaccine in combination with the standard-of-care treatment to reduce the duration of drug therapy, side effects, and potential drug resistance,” Guirakhoo said. “Our goal is to significantly increase the current cure rate of hepatitis B infections while reducing the overall treatment costs at the same time.”
Robert McNally, GeoVax’s president and CEO, said the company’s entry into the realm of hepatitis B demonstrates the broad ability and utility of the MVA-VLP platform.
“We are committed to developing a deep pipeline of products to address high-value, unmet medical needs in our quest to build shareholder value. We look forward to sharing the progress on our HBV vaccine program as it moves forward,” McNally said.