GeoVax Labs, Inc., a biotechnology company developing human vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious diseases and cancer, announced today a multi-party collaboration for the development of Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV) and Marburg virus (MARV) vaccine candidates.  SUDV and MARV cause viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Marburg Virus Disease
Marburg virus virions/CDC

The collaboration between GeoVax, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), and Battelle Memorial Institute, and will utilize the suite of preclinical services from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Under the collaboration, GeoVax’s SUDV and MARV vaccine candidates will be tested for immunogenicity and efficacy in the benchmark nonhuman primate model.  The studies will include two vaccine regimens — single-dose and prime/boost immunization — for each vaccine tested.  Animals will receive a lethal dose of either SUDV or MARV following corresponding vaccine inoculations and monitored for morbidity and mortality.  Additionally, the humoral and cellular immune responses to vaccination will be evaluated in detail. The studies will be funded under NIAID contract no. HHSN272201800131.

David Dodd, GeoVax President and CEO, commented, “This exciting collaboration enables us to advance these two critically needed vaccine candidates through nonhuman primate testing. Previously, our novel vaccine against Ebola virus achieved 100% single-dose protection in a nonhuman primate lethal challenge model and we have consistently validated our vaccine platform capability against other infectious pathogens, resulting in vaccine candidates that have demonstrated 100% preclinical protection in a single dose, without the need for adjuvants. Through our HIV vaccine clinical program, our platform has a demonstrated track record of safety and vaccine durability in humans. Such attributes are critically important when developing vaccines against emergent epidemic threats such as SUDV and MARV, which cause death in up to 90% of cases. We are most appreciative of these support services being provided by NIAID, enabling us to advance our vaccines forward in the development process.”

GeoVax’s Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) platform technology is built on a novel MVA vector system that is improved for high expression and stable transgenes during manufacture. Similar to its parent MVA, it has the advantages of being a live replication-competent vector in avian cells for manufacturing, yet replication-deficient in mammalian cells for vaccination, thus inherently safe for humans. Importantly, MVA vaccines elicit protective T-cell as well as antibody responses in animals and humans. The GeoVax MVA platform can be combined with the potent immunogenicity of virus like particles (VLPs) (insertion of multiple antigens from each pathogen of interest conferring broad protection) or be used to express proteins in their native conformations, enabling construction of vaccine candidates that induce full protection after a single dose. Single-dose protection is a favourable characteristic of preventive vaccines for emerging infectious disease outbreak response, given the speed of spread of pathogens and the impracticality of multi-dose regimens in the under-resourced settings where outbreaks often occur. MVA-VLP vaccine candidates against various virus families (e.g. Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Lassa and Zika) induced strong antibody and T-cell responses and demonstrated full protection after single-dose vaccinations against lethal challenges.