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New Study Suggests Zika Virus Eradication in the Americas May Become Impossible, Making the Need for a Vaccine Even More Critical
GeoVax Comments on New Study Conducted in Brazil
ATLANTA, GA, November 5, 2018 – GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB: GOVX), a biotechnology company developing human vaccines, today commented on a research article on Zika virus appearing in Scientific Reports. The new article, published by researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Faculty of Medicine of Sao Jose do Rio in Brazil, describes the detection of Zika virus in dead monkeys found in several areas in Brazil.
Zika virus is spread among humans predominately via mosquitos. The discovery of Zika in dead primates raises concerns that the disease may have a “wild cycle” similar to yellow fever, whereby wild animals could become a “natural reservoir” from which the virus can re-infect the human population more frequently. This would make combatting Zika much more difficult than previously assumed, making complete eradication of the virus in the Americas very unlikely.
David Dodd, GeoVax President & CEO, commented, “This study highlights the importance of a vaccine solution for Zika. Our vaccine candidate, GEO-ZM02, has demonstrated 100% single-dose protection in mice against a lethal dose of Zika virus, and is progressing to studies in non-human primates with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We have also initiated discussions with potential collaborators in Brazil in preparation for human clinical trials.”
Mr. Dodd continued, “GEO-ZM02 not only has the potential of a single-dose vaccine, which is practical for resource-strained countries, but also does not bear the risk of enhancing other flavivirus infections, such as Dengue, in vaccinated subjects. This phenomenon, called Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) of infection, is a potential safety concern for other Zika vaccines under development that utilize the structural Envelope protein of Zika for their vaccine construct. GEO-ZM02 is based on the NS1 protein of Zika, which is not involved in ADE.”
GeoVax Labs, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases using its MVA-VLP vaccine platform. GeoVax was the winner of the 2018 “Best Biotech” Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards, a finalist for the 2018 “Best Prophylactic Vaccine” Award for its Zika vaccine at the World Vaccine Congress, as well as a finalist for Pipelines of Promise at Buzz of Bio 2018. The Company’s development programs are focused on vaccines against HIV, Zika, hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Lassa) and malaria. GeoVax also is evaluating the use of its MVA-VLP platform in cancer immunotherapy, and for therapeutic use in chronic Hepatitis B infections.
GeoVax’s vaccine technology is based on its Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) Virus-Like Particle (VLP) platform, which generates noninfectious VLPs in the individual being vaccinated. Gene sequences of target antigens are inserted into the MVA genome which drives their expression in infected cells. In addition, GeoVax introduces into the viral genome matrix sequences that incorporate antigens into VLPs and simultaneously facilitate their budding from the membranes of host cells. In this way, vaccination induces two pools of antigens as targets for the immune response – host cells and VLPs secreted from host cells. This strategy mimics a natural viral infection, triggering the body to produce a robust and durable immune response with involvement of both antibodies and T cells. 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. More information about these factors is contained in GeoVax's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including those under "Risk Factors" in its Form 10-K.