Georgia State University scientists are working with Georgia’s growing biotechnology sector to advance a therapeutic vaccine to treat individuals who have chronic Hepatitis B infections.
The university’s research foundation has entered into a research collaboration agreement with GeoVax Labs, Inc., a company developing human vaccines, to push forward in its development.
While a preventive vaccine against Hepatitis B is available, about 20,000 Americans contract Hepatitis B each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For some people, the disease is an acute, or short-term illness, but for others it can become a long-term or chronic infection.
The CDC estimates between 700,000 to 1.4 million people live with the disease in the United States, and 240 million people live with the virus worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
The Hepatitis B virus, or HBV, attacks the liver and puts individuals at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The research collaboration between Georgia State and GeoVax will include the design, construction and characterization of multiple vaccine candidates by combining the preS VLP technology from Georgia State and GeoVax’s MVA-VLP vaccine platform.
Unique VLP design and functional assays developed by Dr. Ming Luo, professor in the Department of Chemistry at Georgia State, and performed in collaboration with Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, will provide key information on vaccine effectiveness.
“My team’s efforts continue to unveil the molecular mechanism of immune responses to HBV infection and we are excited to partner with GeoVax to further the development of a Hepatitis B therapeutic vaccine,” said Dr. Luo. “Globally, chronic Hepatitis B affects more than 240 million people and contributes to nearly 686,000 deaths worldwide each year. By joining forces with GeoVax, we will apply our highly complementary sets of expertise in an effort to address the problem.”
The vaccine will be based upon generating the preS VLP using the GeoVax’s novel MVA-VLP vector platform, which has been proven safe in multiple human clinical trials of the company’s preventive HIV vaccine. This platform is also being used to develop preventive vaccines against Zika virus and hemorrhagic fever viruses, such as Ebola, Sudan, Marburg and Lassa.
“We are fortunate to have the collaboration with nearby Georgia State University and Dr. Ming Luo,” said Farshad Guirakhoo, chief scientific officer at GeoVax. “The combined technologies and already defined functional assays will serve to rapidly test this innovative concept.”