ImmunoVaccine Technologies partners with FIT Biotech to advance therapeutic HIV vaccine

ImmunoVaccine Technologies Inc. (IVT), a Canadian vaccine development company, announced a research partnership with FIT Biotech, a Finland-based , clinical stage company that develops DNA vaccines. This research will formulate FIT Biotech's GTU MultiHIV DNA plasmid with IVT's DepoVax vaccine delivery system to advance a therapeutic HIV vaccine.

"DepoVax will act as a vector to deliver FIT Biotech's GTU MultiHIV DNA vaccine and our goal is to develop a more sophisticated and efficient HIV vaccine candidate," commented Dr. Marc Mansour, Vice President R&D at IVT.

The development of an HIV vaccine is complicated by the ability of the virus to mutate rapidly. FIT Biotech has addressed this challenge by designing a synthetic DNA plasmid, known as GTU MultiHIV that covers the antigenic variability within HIV strains. GTU MultiHIV and is comprised of the multi-epitope/multivalent HIV antigens. As FIT Biotech's lead vaccine candidate, GTU MultiHIV has the potential to trigger an immune response that slows the progression of HIV in infected individuals.

IVT's pre-clinical research demonstrates that DepoVax effectively delivers DNA plasmids into draining lymph nodes with as little as one dose. The DepoVax platform uses liposomes to encapsulate a target antigen, like GTU MultiHIV, and adjuvant. DepoVax also relies on a hydrophobic carrier to create a depot effect that significantly enhances vaccine induced cell-mediated and humoral immunity.

This pre-clinical research partnership will combine the complementary technologies of DepoVax and GTU MultiHIV. Both IVT and FIT Biotech will examine the novel vaccine's capabilities of inducing cell-mediated and humoral immunity against HIV virus.

"By testing DepoVax in combination with GTU MultiHIV plasmid, we are working towards developing a superior vaccine candidate for therapeutic use against HIV and AIDS," said Kalevi Reijonen, President and CEO at FIT Biotech.

The WHO reports that 33 million people are living with HIV and the epidemic is rapidly expanding with 2.7 million people newly infected in 2007. Nearly all of them will develop AIDS-related complications, creating an urgent need for effective HIV therapeutic vaccines. Therapeutic vaccination offers the most hope for HIV infected individuals because it maintains a low viral load and has the potential to modify the course of the infection and its progression towards the AIDS disease.

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