GeoVax Labs Inc. Awarded NIH Grant For Zika Vaccine
Published: Jun 19, 2017
ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - June 19, 2017) - GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB: GOVX), a biotechnology company developing innovative human vaccines, announced today that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the Company a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant of $600,000 in support of its novel Zika vaccine development program.
The grant, entitled "Advanced Preclinical Testing of a Novel Recombinant Vaccine Against Zika Virus", will support preclinical testing of GeoVax's vaccine candidates in non-human primates in preparation for the initiation of a Phase 1 human clinical study.
GeoVax is developing two novel Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine candidates against Zika virus (ZIKV): one expressing the ZIKV NS1 protein (designated GEO-ZM02), and a second expressing the ZIKV Envelope protein. In the studies supported by this grant, GeoVax will evaluate the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of these two vaccine candidates in non-human primates.
Farshad Guirakhoo, Chief Scientific Officer at GeoVax, commented, "The studies funded by this grant will build upon previous work that demonstrates the protective efficacy of recombinant vaccines using GeoVax's MVA live viral vector. We are particularly excited about GEO-ZM02, which recently demonstrated 100% single-dose protection in normal mice against a lethal dose of ZIKV delivered by intracerebral inoculation. GEO-ZM02 not only has the potential of a single-dose vaccine, which is practical to combat epidemics in resource-strained countries, but also does not bear the risk of enhancing other flavivirus infections, such as Dengue and West Nile viruses, in vaccinated subjects. This phenomenon, called Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) of infection, has been shown to increase severity of DENV infection in vivo, and is a safety concern for other Zika vaccines under development that utilize the structural Envelope (E) protein of ZIKV for their vaccine construct. GEO-ZM02 is based on the non-structural-1 (NS1) protein of ZIKV, which is not packaged into the virions and is not involved in ADE. Moreover, the NS1 protein is abundantly secreted into the blood of a ZIKV-infected individual and plays a critical role in flavivirus acquisition by mosquitoes by overcoming the immune barrier of the mosquito midgut. Therefore, GEO-ZM02 has the potential to protect both humans and mosquitoes from ZIKV infection; a novel vaccination strategy that could stem epidemics at a low vaccine coverage."
GeoVax Labs, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases using its Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) vaccine platform. The Company's development programs are focused on preventive vaccines against HIV, Zika Virus, hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg and Lassa fever), and malaria, as well as therapeutic vaccines for chronic Hepatitis B infections and cancers. GeoVax's vaccine platform mimics 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. 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.
Robert T. McNally, Ph.D.
GeoVax Labs, Inc.