The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently awarded a 2-year, $600,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant to GenVec, Inc. to support the development of adenovector-based vaccines for HSV-2. Research will be conducted at GenVec, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington by Drs. Lawrence Corey, Greg Mahairas, and David Koelle.
The research focuses on the development of an adenovirus vector based vaccine. Adenoviruses are double-stranded DNA viruses that can be genetically altered for use in vaccines. Regions of a virus, such as HSV, can be inserted into the adenovirus DNA, which can be used in the development of a vaccine. The genetically altered adenovirus serves as a vehicle—or “vector”—for the body’s immune response. The immune system will recognize the HSV viral components develop antibodies in response.
This project will focus on two HSV antigens*, UL-47 and UL-19, that have been shown to cause an immune response in individuals with HSV-2. In this first stage, researchers will development an adenovirus vector vaccine with antigens and evaluate the HSV-2 specific T8+ T-cell immune response in animal models. The long-term goal of this research is to conduct clinical trials to test not only whether this vaccine model can prevent acquisition of HSV-2, but also test its effectiveness in decreasing viral reactivation and the rate of recurrences as well.
*An antigen is any foreign substance, such as a protein, that creates an immune response in the body.
Other herpes vaccine news:
- The HerpeVac Trial for Women, a Phase III clinical trial of a prophylactic (preventive) herpes vaccine for women, has enrolled more than eight thousand women. Results from the trial should be available in 2009.
- A therapeutic vaccine for herpes, AG-707, developed by Antigenics, Inc. is currently in Phase I clinical trials. The company reports that immunology data is expected from the AG-707 study in the first half of 2008.
- Acambis recently announced that it has initiated pre-clinical trials with a herpes vaccine, licensed from Harvard University through its Office of Technology Development, with a view to submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application in 2009. The dl5-29 HSV-2 vaccine, developed by a team at Harvard Medical School led by David Knipe, Higgins Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Studies of dl5-29 in mice and guinea pigs already conducted by Knipe’s team showed that the replication-defective vaccine induces strong HSV-2–specific antibody and T cell responses, can protect against challenge with a wild-type HSV-2 virus, and greatly reduces the severity of recurrent disease. It also provides cross-protection against HSV-1. To read more about dl5-29, visit the website for Dr. Knipe’s lab.