ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Novavax, Inc. announced today the publication of research findings in the August 1, 2007 online issue of Journal of Virology demonstrating the potential of the company's proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) technology to create a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS. The paper describes the discovery by Novavax scientists and colleagues from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Emory University and Duke University, with funding by the National Institutes of Health, that improved HIV-1 VLPs can be produced to create potential new AIDS vaccines.
In this paper, the authors describe a new way to maximize the incorporation of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp160 into VLPs. HIV-1 gp160 is the major surface protein of the virus and a principal immunogenic target against HIV.
Virus-like particles mimic the three-dimensional structure of a virus but do not contain the virus's genetic material required for replication or infection. When inoculated into the body, these particles have the ability to trigger strong immune responses that are capable of protecting against viral infection. Novavax is developing vaccines to prevent HIV, influenza and other viral diseases based upon this technology.
"This research represents a very important step forward in our VLP-based vaccine program and an exciting development in our collaboration with leaders in the field of HIV vaccines," said Dr. Gale Smith, Vice President of vaccine development at Novavax "We have produced VLPs which bind to CD4 and chemokine receptors. These VLP's have certain 'conserved' HIV-1 gene sequences which do not change; therefore these neutralizing antibodies may be very effective -- all important characteristics for development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine."
Novavax and its collaborators are conducting preclinical studies of an HIV VLP vaccine candidate in preparation for human clinical trials which could begin as early as next year. Novavax is currently conducting a Phase I/IIa clinical trial of a pandemic flu vaccine using this similar VLP technology.
Commenting on this scientific advance, Dr. Rahul Singhvi, president and CEO of Novavax said, "This vaccine candidate further demonstrates the versatility of our VLP vaccine platform to target multiple diseases. It is also a good example of leveraging a public/private partnership."
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 39.5 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and last year 2.9 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses. Public health officials agree that an effective vaccine will be the best way to halt the AIDS epidemic.
Novavax Inc. is a clinical stage vaccine company committed to leading the global fight against infectious disease by creating novel, highly potent vaccines that are safer and more effective than current preventive options. Using the company's proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) and Novasome(R) adjuvant technologies, Novavax is developing vaccines to protect against H5N1 pandemic influenza, seasonal flu and other viral diseases. Novavax's particulate vaccines closely match disease-causing viruses while lacking the genetic material to cause disease, which provides potential for greater immune protection at lower doses than current vaccines. With an exclusive portable manufacturing system that allows for rapid mass-production of vaccines, Novavax is uniquely positioned to meet global public health needs
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