GeoVax Provides Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine Development Program
Update Given During Presentation at the World Immunotherapy Congress
ATLANTA, GA, March 04, 2020 – GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTC: GOVX), a biotechnology company developing human immunotherapies and vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer, today provided an update on its development of a vaccine for prevention/control of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus. The update was given by GeoVax’s Chief Scientific Officer, Farshad Guirakhoo, PhD, during his presentation on emerging infectious diseases entitled “Development of Single Dose Vaccines for Emerging Infectious Diseases Using a Novel MVA Platform” at the World Immunotherapy Congress in San Diego, California.
GeoVax is using its GV-MVA-VLPTM vaccine platform and expertise to design and construct vaccine candidates using genetic sequences from the virus responsible for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak originating in Wuhan, China. In late January, the Company entered into a letter of intent to begin a collaboration with BravoVax, a vaccine developer in Wuhan, China, to jointly develop a vaccine. Under the arrangement, upon receipt of vaccine candidates from GeoVax, BravoVax will provide testing and manufacturing support, as well as direct interactions with Chinese public health and regulatory authorities.
Dr. Guirakhoo stated, “Development of a safe and effective vaccine to stem current and future epidemics of COVID-19 is a high priority for us. We have designed a number of vaccine candidates which will be narrowed through appropriate animal testing studies based on their safety, immunogenicity and protective efficacy. The final candidate will then be selected for manufacturing and initial human clinical testing for safety and immunogenicity. Our preliminary work with BravoVax is proceeding productively, with ongoing cross-contributions to the testing plans and respective dialogue with funding agencies. In addition, GeoVax is working to develop a proprietary, patented vaccine development process improvement, intended to significantly speed-up the vaccine development process towards testing and validation.”
Dr. Guirakhoo continued, “Perhaps of critical importance is that the viral basis of our vaccine vector (MVA) has more than 50 years of safety records and has been recently approved by the FDA for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox diseases. We therefore expect a faster regulatory licensure for our COVID-19 vaccine than for other, unproven technologies.”
David Dodd, GeoVax’s President and CEO, commented, “The current COVID-19 outbreak underscores the critical importance to identify and validate vaccine development platforms that can provide rapid vaccine response to new, emergent infectious threats. The GeoVax GV-MVA-VLPTM platform has been previously demonstrated in animal studies against a variety of infectious challenges (Ebola, Marburg, Zika, HIV, etc.) to be an excellent candidate platform for addressing such ‘Disease X’ epidemic threats. We look forward to working closely with our industry partners, government agencies and other organizations to advance our developments, including our COVID-19 vaccine, to critical validation milestones.”
About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavairus-2 (SARS-Cov-2) which originated in Wuhan, China, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. There is currently no vaccine available to treat or prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) or any other CoV infections.
As of March 3, 2020, the number of reported COVID-19 infections is approaching 100,000, with more than 3,100 deaths. The situation is fluid, with case reports being updated daily. The current situation report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here. Situation reports from the WHO are accessible here.
GeoVax Labs, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer using a novel proprietary vaccine platform (GV-MVA-VLPTM). On this platform, MVA, a large virus capable of carrying several vaccine antigens, expresses proteins that assemble into VLP immunogens within (in vivo) the person receiving the vaccine. The production of VLPs in the person being vaccinated mimics virus production in a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control the target infection. The GV-MVA-VLPTM derived vaccines can elicit durable immune responses in the host similar to a live-attenuated virus, while typically providing the safety characteristics of a replication-defective vector.
GeoVax’s current development programs are focused on preventive vaccines against COVID-19, HIV, Zika, hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, and Lassa), and malaria, as well as therapeutic vaccines against chronic Hepatitis B infections and multiple cancers. The Company has developed preventive HIV vaccine candidate (GOVX-B11) for the clade B subtype of HIV prevalent in the Americas, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia and the clade C subtype prevalent in Africa and India. GOVX-B11 is scheduled for inclusion in an upcoming human clinical trial managed by the HVTN with the support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). GeoVax’s clade B HIV vaccine is also part of collaborative efforts to develop an immunotherapy as a functional cure for HIV.
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 and BravoVax will enter into a binding agreement, 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.
GeoVax Labs, Inc.