Biotechnology firm GeoVax Labs has signed a research collaboration agreement with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to develop its vaccines against Ebola and Marburg viruses.
The deal has been established to accelerate the development of vaccines against filoviruses, the family of hemorrhagic viruses containing Ebola and Marburg.
GeoVax is involved in developing both single-strain and multi-strain vaccines against Ebola and Marburg, a haemorrhagic virus similar to Ebola.
GeoVax Labs chief scientific officer Dr Harriet Robinson said: "The research project covered by this agreement clearly aligns with NIAID’s mission to address domestic and global health problems and diseases, including newly emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola and Marburg."
GeoVax has partnered extensively with NIAID in the development of modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccines against HIV and its MVA-vectored HIV vaccines that also express non-infectious VLPs have been constructed in NIAID-developed vectors.
As part of the deal, NIAID will provide materials, reagents and scientific advice for vaccine construction. It will also collaborate on the analysis of the recombinant MVA expression and stability, data analysis, and interpretation of these studies.
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GeoVax will involve constructing and characterising MVA-Ebola and MVA-Marburg recombinants in-vitro and prepare MVA Ebola and Marburg vaccines for animal studies.
NIAID will then involve conducting animal protection studies in guinea pigs, hamsters, and non-human primates if appropriate.
The recombinant MVA vectored vaccines are being designed to produce non-infectious virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the Ebola or Marburg virus matrix protein (VP40) and displaying the Ebola or Marburg virus glycoprotein (GP).
The matrix protein forms VLPs exhibiting the glycoprotein that is the target for protective antibody.
Image: Electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion. Photo: courtesy of CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith.