GeoVax Labs, Inc., said Monday that it is making progress on its Ebola vaccine development program.
GeoVax a biotechnology company that uses its unique vaccine delivery platform to create human vaccines, began its Ebola vaccine program in October 2014. Since then its researchers have created two Ebola vaccines: GOVX-E301 and GOVX-E302.
GOVX-E301 is a monovalent vaccine that will fight against the Zaire strain, which caused the current outbreak in western Africa.
GOVX-E302 is a trivalent vaccine that will fight all three known strains of Ebola that are harmful to humans: Bundibuygo, Sudan and Zaire.
Both of the vaccines use the recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara platform unique to GeoVax. The platform creates virus-like particles (VLPs) in the person receiving the immunization.
VLPs reveal Ebola’s presence through the cell’s surface proteins. GeoVax’s report that the vaccine now produces VLPs inside vaccine-expressing human cells marks a crucial moment in creating an Ebola vaccine - a better likelihood of provoking an antibody response against Ebola.
Researchers at GeoVax plan to complete the initial studies that determine the immunogenicity of the vaccine. Next they will move on to proof-of-concept challenge studies.
Current subjects include small animals. Researchers plan to use non-human primates as subjects later this year. By 2016 they should progress to human clinical testing.
"The Ebola epidemic continues to receive worldwide attention, and a number of companies are working to develop vaccines,” GeoVax President and CEO Robert McNally said. “However, as we've seen already with at least one company's efforts, vaccine safety issues have arisen, while other companies plan to use two different vaccines to hopefully achieve adequate immune responses. With the safety and efficacy track record we have established for our vaccine delivery platform through our HIV program, and with the use of the most current genomic sequences of the Ebola virus, GeoVax has a high probability of success in developing a vaccine superior to the vaccines currently entering clinical trials. Additionally, our focus on a trivalent Ebola vaccine against multiple strains of the virus is something the world needs, as history has shown that the current outbreak will not be the last."