GEO-CM02 Progresses as a Universal Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate
Atlanta, GA – (NewMediaWire) – October 18, 2021 – GeoVax Labs, Inc. (Nasdaq: GOVX), a biotechnology company specializing in developing human vaccines and cancer immunotherapies, today announced that Mark J. Newman, Ph.D., GeoVax’s Chief Scientific Officer, will participate in an interactive roundtable discussion on the topic “Is it feasible to develop universal/pan coronavirus vaccines?” and chair the session on clinical development and testing of COVID vaccines during the World Vaccine Congress Europe, being held October 19-21 in Barcelona, Spain.
First-generation COVID (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines were rapidly developed and have proven highly efficacious in the human population and were designed to encode the prefusion stabilized Spike protein (S) with the goal of inducing high levels of neutralizing antibodies. Potential limitations of narrowly focusing on the S protein, which is variable amongst coronaviruses, are becoming apparent with emerging variants that partially escape neutralizing antibodies. Thus, the effectiveness of these vaccines against new SARS-CoV-2 variants and future coronavirus spillover events remains a concern.
Using its novel Modified Virus Ankara – Virus Like Particle (GV-MVA-VLPTM) platform, GeoVax has developed a design strategy for vaccines expected to induce broader immunity through inclusion of multiple structural and nonstructural proteins from the target pathogen. The GV-MVA-VLPTM platform is known to induce both humoral (antibody) and cellular immune responses against the encoded vaccine immunogens. Through the inclusion of genes encoding highly conserved coronavirus proteins as the targets, immune responses against proteins other than the S-protein are induced, limiting the potential of immune escape by emerging variants.
GeoVax’s vaccine design strategy for developing a universal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was presented previously at the European Society of Medicine (ESMED) General Assembly. The Company’s initial vaccine candidate, GEO-CM02 encodes the Spike (S), Membrane (M) and Envelope (E) proteins. In this first-generation format, the simultaneous expression of the SARS-CoV-2 proteins supports the in vivo formation of virus like particles, or VLP, which induce both antibody and T-cell responses. Dr. Newman also presented vaccine efficacy and immunogenicity data for GEO-CM02 from hamster and transgenic mice studies, completed to date. Incorporation of additional sequence-conserved nonstructural proteins can provide targets for T-cell responses to further increase the breadth and function of vaccine-induced immune responses. This strategy provides the basis for generating a universal vaccine with augmented potential to alleviate the burden of disease caused by circulating coronaviruses. Dr. Newman’s ESMED presentation is available on GeoVax’s website at www.geovax.com/investors/events.
GeoVax Labs, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer using novel patented platforms. GeoVax’s Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) based vaccine platform utilizes MVA, a large virus capable of carrying several vaccine antigens, that expresses proteins that assemble into VLP immunogens in the person receiving the vaccine. The production of VLP in the person being vaccinated can mimic 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 MVA-VLP derived vaccines can elicit durable immune responses in the host similar to a live-attenuated virus, while providing the safety characteristics of a replication-defective vector.
GeoVax’s MVA-VLP development programs are focused on preventive vaccines against COVID-19, HIV, Zika Virus, and hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, and Lassa), as well as therapeutic vaccines against multiple cancers. The Company has designed a preventive HIV vaccine candidate to fight against the subtype of HIV prevalent in the commercial markets of the Americas, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia; human clinical trials for this program are managed by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) with the support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). GeoVax’s HIV vaccine is also part of a collaborative effort toward a functional cure for HIV.
In September 2021, GeoVax expanded its immuno-oncology pipeline and added a new technology platform through the acquisition of exclusive rights to Gedeptin®, a novel patented product for the treatment of solid tumors through a gene therapy strategy known as GDEPT (Gene-Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy). In GDEPT, a vector is used to selectively transduce tumor cells with a nonhuman gene, which expresses an enzyme that can convert a nontoxic prodrug into a very toxic antitumor compound. A Phase 1/2 trial is currently enrolling to evaluate the safety and efficacy of repeat cycles of Gedeptin therapy in patients with recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), with tumors accessible for injection and no curable treatment options. The initial stage of the study is being funded by the FDA pursuant to its Orphan Products Clinical Trials Grants Program. A cycle of Gedeptin therapy consists of three intra-tumoral injections over a two-day period followed by infusion of a prodrug, fludarabine phosphate, once a day for three days. The FDA has granted Gedeptin Orphan Drug status for the treatment HNSCC. GeoVax’s license to Gedeptin includes rights to expand its use to all human diseases and/or conditions including, but not limited to, other cancers.
This release contains forward-looking statements regarding GeoVax’s business plans. The words “believe,” “look forward to,” “may,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “should,” “plan,” “could,” “target,” “potential,” “is likely,” “will,” “expect” and similar expressions, as they relate to us, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. Actual results may differ materially from those included in these statements due to a variety of factors, including whether: GeoVax’s vaccines can provoke the desired immune responses, and those vaccines can be used effectively as a primary or booster to other vaccines, GeoVax’s viral vector technology adequately amplifies immune responses to cancer antigens, GeoVax can develop and manufacture its products with the desired characteristics in a timely manner, GeoVax’s products will be safe for human use, GeoVax’s vaccines will effectively prevent targeted infections in humans, GeoVax’s products will receive regulatory approvals necessary to be licensed and marketed, GeoVax raises required capital to complete product 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.
Further information on our risk factors is contained in our registration statement on Form S-1 and the periodic reports on Form 10-Q and Form 10-K that we have filed and will file with the SEC. Any forward-looking statement made by us herein speaks only as of the date on which it is made. Factors or events that could cause our actual results to differ may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all of them. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by U.S. federal securities law.
GeoVax Labs, Inc.