ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - Jan 9, 2017) - GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB: GOVX) announced today that it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with the Burnet Institute, a leading infectious diseases research institute in Australia, for the development of a vaccine to prevent malaria infection.
The project will include the design, construction, and characterization of multiple malaria vaccine candidates using GeoVax's MVA-VLP vaccine platform combined with malaria Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax sequences identified by the Burnet Institute. The vaccine design, construction, and characterization will be performed at GeoVax with further characterization and immunogenicity studies in mice and rabbits conducted at Burnet Institute using their unique functional assays that provide key information on vaccine efficacy.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. Over 3 billion people in 106 countries and territories live at risk of malaria infection. According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), 214 million new cases of malaria were recorded worldwide in 2015, resulting in 438,000 deaths. Children under five years of age are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection, and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 306,000 children. Despite many decades of research and development, there is no commercial malaria vaccine at the present time.
Dr. Farshad Guirakhoo, GeoVax's Chief Scientifc Officer stated, "A first generation infection-blocking malaria vaccine, RTS,S, is under regulatory review. It requires 4 doses and has been recommended by the WHO for pilot implementation studies. Since this vaccine is based on a single antigen and has modest efficacy (30-40%, depending on the age of subjects), the WHO has defined a Road Map for developing and licensing of next generation malaria vaccines. These vaccines are expected to contain multiple antigens designed to block both infection and transmission of malaria with at least a 75% efficacy rate. Although there is no single correlate of immunity defined for protection against malaria, there is good evidence that rapid and strong B and T cell responses against various stages of the parasites' life cycle can be highly effective in preventing malaria. In multiple clinical trials, we have shown that our MVA-VLP-HIV vaccine (producing VLPs in vaccinated subjects) induces a Th1 biased immune response with both durable functional antibodies (IgG1 and IgG3) and CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses, both of which are hallmarks of an ideal malaria vaccine required for killing intracellular parasites. GeoVax's proprietary MVA-VLP platform will be used to elicit high titer, durable antibody, and cellular responses to Burnet antigens selected to block both infection and transmission phases of the parasite."
Professor James Beeson, Head of the Centre for Biomedical Research at Burnet Institute said, "Malaria is a complex disease and despite many decades of research and development efforts it has proven very challenging to develop a vaccine able to induce long-term protective immune responses in clinical studies. The Burnet Institute has a long history of malaria research and the development of an effective vaccine is one of our key priorities. To achieve a much-needed highly effective malaria vaccine, a platform is needed that can induce potent and sustained protective immune responses by delivery of optimal selection of specific vaccine immunogens and combinations. The GeoVax MVA-VLP technology is an attractive platform for malaria vaccine development, and will be combined with Burnet's candidate vaccine antigens and combinations. Burnet's expertise will be critical in quantifying functional immunity to malaria to down-select and refine leading vaccine candidates aimed at generating potent and long-lasting protective immunity."
About The Burnet Institute
The Burnet Institute is an Australian medical research institute that combines medical research in the laboratory and the field with public health action to address major global health issues. The Institute is home to more than 400 medical researchers working across six main themes: infectious diseases; immunity, vaccines and immunization; maternal and child health; alcohol, other drugs, and harm reduction; sexual and reproductive health; and the health of young people. Burnet Institute has particular expertise in infectious diseases (especially HIV/AIDS, malaria, hepatitis viruses, influenza, tuberculosis, and emerging infectious diseases) and in understanding the immune responses to these infections. Translating new knowledge into tangible and practical health outcomes is a major focus of the Institute. The Burnet Institute has a large malaria research and implementation program, including the development of vaccines, new drugs, and diagnostics, as well as malaria control and elimination research and implementation activities The Institute's official name is the Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health Ltd, more commonly known as the Burnet Institute.
GeoVax Labs, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases using its MVA-VLP vaccine platform. The Company's development programs are focused on vaccines against HIV, Zika Virus, and hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Lassa). GeoVax also recently began programs to evaluate the use of its MVA-VLP platform in cancer immunotherapy, and for therapeutic use in chronic Hepatitis B infections. GeoVax's vaccine platform supports in vivo production of non-infectious virus-like particles (VLPs) from the cells of the very person receiving the vaccine, mimicking a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control the target infection. For more information, visit www.geovax.com.
Certain statements in this document are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from those included in these statements due to a variety of factors, including whether: GeoVax can develop and manufacture its vaccines with the desired characteristics in a timely manner, GeoVax's vaccines will be safe for human use, GeoVax's vaccines will effectively prevent targeted infections in humans, GeoVax's vaccines will receive regulatory approvals necessary to be licensed and marketed, GeoVax raises required capital to complete vaccine development, there is development of competitive products that may be more effective or easier to use than GeoVax's products, GeoVax will be able to enter into favorable manufacturing and distribution agreements, and other factors, over which GeoVax has no control. GeoVax assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, and does not intend to do so. More information about these factors is contained in GeoVax's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including those set forth at "Risk Factors" in GeoVax's Form 10-K.