Dynavax recieves funding to study hepatitis B

Dynavax Technologies has received funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases to study the differences between individuals who do and do not respond to vaccinations against the hepatitis B virus.

The systems biology approach to studying the differences in vaccination response is expected to be covered by a five year, $17.6 million grant to Jacques Banchereau of the Baylor Institute of Immunology Research in Dallas as part of the Human Immune Phenotyping Centers program, Pharmaceutical Business Review reports.

Robert Coffman, Dynavax's chief scientific officer, said that Heplisav, the company's investigational hepatitis B vaccine candidate, has demonstrated an ability to protect patients who would otherwise be less or non-responsive to conventional vaccines.

"With this grant, we have the opportunity to study the underlying mechanisms that affect a target population's ability to respond to immunization," Coffman told Pharmaceutical Business Review.

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is spread through bodily fluids and can, for some, lead to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver.

Hepatitis B and C afflict approximately 5.3 million Americans, causing the deaths of between 12,000 to 15,000 annually. It disproportionately affects African and Asian Americans.

The earliest record of a hepatitis B epidemic was recorded in 1885.