GAITHERSBURG, Md., March 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- GenVec, Inc. , PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) today announced a dynamic partnership to enable scientists to assess whether five malaria antigens, or proteins, can generate strong immune responses alone or in combination. This new partnership will advance and expand the ongoing malaria vaccine development program between GenVec and the NMRC. Malaria is one of the world's three leading infectious disease killers.
Under a two-year Collaborative Research, Development and Supply Agreement, MVI will provide GenVec up to $2.5 million for the production and evaluation of adenovirus vectors containing genes for up to five malaria antigens. GenVec's proprietary adenovector technology uses a replication deficient adenovector to deliver the genes to cause the production of beneficial antigens or proteins. Under a separate Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between GenVec and NMRC, NMRC scientists will provide GenVec with optimized malaria genes to be used in the adenovector vaccines. NMRC will then compare the effects of these vaccines alone and in combination in animal models.
Many malaria experts believe that a vaccine containing more than one malaria antigen will be necessary to adequately impact disease. The vaccines will contain the genes for up to five antigens (CSP, SSP2, LSA1, MSP1, and AMA1) from different stages of the parasite's life cycle-antigens thought to be important in preventing or limiting the severity of malaria. GenVec's technology will enable several malaria genes to be delivered in a single vaccine.
"MVI is delighted to be working with GenVec and NMRC on such vital development work," said Dr. Melinda Moree, Director of MVI. "We hope to learn more about which antigens to drive forward and which to halt-a key contribution that MVI can make to move the field ahead. This selection process should give scientists worldwide a better idea about the components needed to produce an effective malaria vaccine."
"The synergistic attributes of this partnership are powerful," commented Dr. Joseph Bruder, GenVec's Director of Vector and Vaccine Programs. "The partnership combines the latest advances in malaria antigen optimization with GenVec's advanced adenovector delivery technology," he concluded.
Dr. Denise Doolan, Head of Pre-Clinical Research and Development at the NMRC Malaria Program echoed Dr. Bruder's comments, "NMRC is very pleased to be working with GenVec and MVI on the development of 'next generation' malaria vaccines. This is a natural follow-on to NMRC's molecular vaccine development program and represents a unique partnership of government, industry and the public-sector."
Malaria is a life-threatening disease, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Malaria parasites initially invade liver cells and, after multiplying, release tens of thousands of new parasites, which invade red blood cells, multiply again, and then destroy these cells. Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and vomiting appear approximately 9 to 14 days after the infectious bite. If untreated, the infection can progress rapidly and become life threatening, destroying red blood cells causing severe anemia and blocking capillaries that carry blood to the brain resulting in coma and death. Malaria causes more than 300 million acute illnesses and over one million deaths annually, mostly among children under the age of 5. Malaria is also a major health risk for travelers and the military.
PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is a global program established through an initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to PATH. MVI's mission is to accelerate the development of promising malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility for the developing world. MVI's vision is a world where vaccines protect children from death and severe disease caused by malaria. For information, visit http://www.malariavaccine.org/. PATH is an international, non-profit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. For more information, please visit http://www.path.org/.
The Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) conducts basic and applied research, development, and clinical evaluations to enhance the health, safety and readiness of Navy and Marine Corps personnel in the effective performance of peacetime and contingency missions. NMRC also provides research and development support as required by the Department of Defense. NMRC's Malaria Program is developing vaccines that prevent malaria infection in military personnel and for the humanitarian mission of providing access to malaria vaccines for those who need it most. Combining pioneering work on molecular vaccine technologies with cutting-edge genomics efforts, NMRC scientist's research efforts are focused on developing and testing "next generation" vaccine delivery systems to tackle one of the most complex vaccine challenges.
GenVec is a publicly held biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies that improve patient care in the areas of cancer, heart disease, and vision loss. Through collaborations with the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center, GenVec is developing vaccines for HIV, SARS, malaria and dengue virus. Additional information on GenVec is available at http://www.genvec.com/ and in the company's various filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Statements herein relating to future financial or business performance, conditions or strategies and other financial and business matters, including expectations regarding future revenues and operating expenses, are forward- looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. GenVec cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, which change over time. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements or historical experience include risks and uncertainties, including the failure by GenVec to secure and maintain relationships with collaborators; risks relating to the early stage of GenVec's product candidates under development; uncertainties relating to clinical trials; risks relating to the commercialization, if any, of GenVec's proposed product candidates (such as marketing, regulatory, patent, product liability, supply, competition and other risks); dependence on the efforts of third parties; dependence on intellectual property; and risks that we may lack the financial resources and access to capital to fund our operations. Further information on the factors and risks that could affect GenVec's business, financial conditions and results of operations, are contained in GenVec's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are available at http://www.sec.gov/. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release, and GenVec assumes no duty to update forward- looking statements.