Georgia State University, GeoVax join forces to advance development of Hepatitis B therapeutic vaccine

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The Georgia State University Research Foundation has entered into a research collaboration agreement with GeoVax Labs, Inc., a Georgia-based biotechnology company developing human vaccines, to advance development of a therapeutic vaccine for treatment of chronic Hepatitis B infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates between 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis B virus infections, with an estimated 20,000 new infections every year.

The research collaboration 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."

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