ATLANTA, GA, , May 24, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB: GOVX), a biotechnology company developing human vaccines, announced today that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the Company a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant in support of its novel Zika vaccine development program. The grant award of $300,000 will fund the second year of a two-year project period with a total budget of $600,000.
The grant, entitled “Advanced Preclinical Testing of a Novel Recombinant Vaccine Against Zika Virus”, supports advanced preclinical testing of GeoVax’s vaccine candidate (designated GEO-ZM02) in non-human primates in preparation for human clinical trials. GEO-ZM02 is a novel vaccine approach to protect against Zika virus (ZIKV), using GeoVax’s Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vector to express the ZIKV non-structural protein 1 (NS1).
Farshad Guirakhoo, Chief Scientific Officer at GeoVax, commented, “The studies funded by this grant are building upon previous work that demonstrates the protective efficacy of recombinant vaccines using GeoVax’s MVA live viral vector. We are particularly excited about GEO-ZM02, which has demonstrated 100% single-dose protection in normal mice against a lethal dose of ZIKV delivered by intracerebral inoculation at the CDC laboratories in Fort Collins, CO. GEO-ZM02 not only has the potential of a single-dose vaccine, which is practical to combat epidemics in resource-strained countries, but also does not bear the risk of enhancing other flavivirus infections, such as Dengue serotypes 1-4, in vaccinated subjects. This phenomenon, called Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) of infection, has been shown to increase severity of Dengue infection in vivo, and is a safety concern for other Zika vaccines under development that utilize the structural Envelope (E) protein of ZIKV for their vaccine construct. GEO-ZM02 is based on the NS1 protein of ZIKV, which is not packaged into the virions and is not involved in ADE. Moreover, the NS1 protein is abundantly secreted into the blood of a ZIKV-infected individual and has been shown to play a critical role in flavivirus acquisition by mosquitoes by overcoming the immune barrier of the mosquito midgut. Therefore, GEO-ZM02 has the potential to protect both humans and mosquitoes from ZIKV infection; a novel vaccination strategy that could stem epidemics at a low vaccine coverage.”
GeoVax Labs, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases using its Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) vaccine platform. The Company’s development programs are focused on preventive vaccines against HIV, Zika virus, hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, and Lassa), and malaria, as well as therapeutic vaccines for chronic hepatitis B infections and cancers. GeoVax’s vaccine platform supports in vivo production of non-infectious VLPs from the cells of the very person receiving the vaccine, mimicking a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control the target infection. For more information, visit www.geovax.com.
Certain statements in this document are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from those included in these statements due to a variety of factors, including whether: GeoVax can develop and manufacture its vaccines with the desired characteristics in a timely manner, GeoVax’s vaccines will be safe for human use, GeoVax’s vaccines will effectively prevent targeted infections in humans, GeoVax’s vaccines will receive regulatory approvals necessary to be licensed and marketed, GeoVax raises required capital to complete vaccine 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. GeoVax assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements and does not intend to do so. More information about these factors is contained in GeoVax’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including those set forth at “Risk Factors” in GeoVax’s Form 10-K.