GeoVax said today it will extend its collaboration with the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) beyond HIV treatment, toward developing vaccines against the Ebola and Marburg viruses. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

The partners aim to accelerate the development of vaccines against filoviruses, the family of hemorrhagic viruses that includes Ebola and Marburg. GeoVax is developing single-strain and multi-strain modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vectored vaccines, designed to produce non-infectious virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the Ebola or Marburg virus matrix protein (VP40) and displaying the Ebola or Marburg virus glycoprotein (GP). The matrix protein forms VLPs displaying the glycoprotein, the target for protective antibody.

NIAID has agreed to contribute materials, reagents, and scientific advice for vaccine construction—as well as analysis of the recombinant MVA expression and stability, data analysis, and interpretation “where appropriate.”

GeoVax said it agreed to construct and characterize MVA-Ebola and MVA-Marburg recombinants in vitro, as well as prepare MVA Ebola and Marburg vaccines for animal studies. NIAID will carry out animal protection studies in guinea pigs, hamsters, and non-human primates “if appropriate.”

“We anticipate beginning the animal studies contemplated by the research plan in the very near future,” GeoVax CEO Harriet L. Robinson, Ph.D., said in a statement.

GeoVax has previously said it is developing two MVA vaccines against Ebola:

  • GOVX-E301, a single-dose vaccine for epidemic response against the ZEBOV strain of Ebola, the virus responsible for the current West Africa outbreak; and
  • GOVX-E302, which is being developed for routine immunization and is designed to protect against all three versions of Ebola known to be lethal in humans. GOVX-E302 is anticipated to be used in a two dose regimen.

GeoVax is also developing MVA-vectored HIV vaccines that also express VLPs and were constructed in NIAID-developed vectors. On Tuesday, the company said it intended to pursue a dual pathway for advancing its preventive clade B HIV vaccine into pivotal human efficacy trials.

In October at the HIV Research for Prevention 2014: AIDS Vaccine, Microbicide and ARV-based Prevention Science (HIVR4P) conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Robinson presented results of a Phase I trial of its DNA/MVA vaccine regimen (GOVX-B11) in HIV-infected patients, completed earlier in 2014. While safety results were strong, GOVX-B11 did not prevent viral re-emergence or control re-emergent virus to levels that minimize immune escape.

GeoVax said on Tuesday it plans to both advance GOVX-B11 into a Phase IIb trial and pursue a second program that uses GOVX-B11 as a boost within a Phase I trial of the company’s clade B HIV vaccine, with or without a gp120 protein vaccine. The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) has assigned a trial number, HVTN 114, to the Phase I trial, GeoVax announced on April 1.

To view our infographic Getting Ahead of Ebola, click here.

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