Companies will work together to fine-tune the platform for production of the MVA component.

GeoVax Labs plans to use Vivalis’ EBx® technology to manufacture the MVA component of the its HIV-1 vaccine. Under the letter of intent (LOI), GeoVax will also further develop this platform to create a new standard for manufacturing this MVA component.

The GeoVax vaccine is a DNA/MVA vaccine that uses recombinant DNA to prime the immune response and then a recombinant MVA virus to boost the immune response. MVA stands for modified vaccinia ankara, a smallpox viral vaccine that was attenuated by replicating the vaccine virus over 500 times in chicken cells.

The ability to manufacture MVA in industrial cell lines that have been approved for vaccine production was limited, however. Rather, MVA had to be grown in chicken cells through a cumbersome process, according to the companies. The Vivalis EBx manufacturing technology eliminates such difficulties and enables rapid large-scale production in bioreactors for GeoVax’ future commercial needs, they add.

EBx is based on a duck embryonic stem cell substrate platform. The EB66® cell line provides continuous growth from a fully characterized frozen cell bank without necessitating fertilized embryo extraction and processing, as with present chicken cell-based technologies, according to Vivalis. Furthermore, the EB66 cell line can be grown in suspension and can be scaled up for large-scale production of the MVA viral vaccine.

“When we learned about the work of Vivalis with EBx cell lines that might be able to be used to grow MVA, we contacted Vivalis and arranged with them to jointly conduct pilot studies on the growth of our MVA vaccine,” says Harriet Robinson, svp of Research R&D, GeoVax. “Our early production results have been very promising and have led to this LOI for more formal development of the Vivalis EB66 cell line for the production of our MVA vaccine.”

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