GeoVax Immuno-Oncology Programs

Unlike conventional therapies (e.g.  radiation, chemotherapy, antibody, etc.), therapeutic cancer vaccines have the potential to induce responses that not only result in the control and even clearance of tumors, but also establish immunological memory that can suppress and prevent tumor recurrence.  Convenience, safety, and low toxicity of cancer vaccines could make them invaluable tools to be included in future immunotherapy approaches for treating cancer.  

We believe our MVA vector platform is well-suited for development of therapeutic cancer vaccines based on the expression of tumor-associated antigens such as MUC1, Cyclin B1 or others.  Our early preclinical data has been highly encouraging, leading to multiple research collaborations, and we plan to further expand upon our efforts in this important area.

Solid Tumor Cancers

We are using our MVA-VLP vaccine platform to express abnormal, aberrantly glycosylated forms of the cell surface-associated Mucin 1 (MUC1) protein that is associated with a wide range of cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, and lung. We are collaborating with a leading expert in cancer immunotherapy at the University of Pittsburgh for assistance in selection and testing of vaccine candidates. We are also collaborating with ViaMune, Inc. and have shown that our MVA-VLP-MUC1 vaccine in combination with ViaMune’s synthetic MUC1 vaccine significantly reduced tumor burden in a transgenic human MUC1 therapeutic mouse model.  Additionally, we have expanded our oncology program to target other cancer antigens through collaborations with Vaxeal Holding, SA, a Swiss biotech company specializing in immunotherapy-based cancer vaccines, and Leidos, Inc. for combination with novel peptide checkpoint inhibitors developed by Leidos. Each of these oncology programs have the potential to yield multiple vaccine candidates against various types of cancers.

Our clinical approach for development of our immuno-oncology program will use standard-of-care (SOC) treatments, vaccination, and immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPI) to unleash a patient’s immune system to fight their cancer.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – associated Head and Neck Cancers

We are collaborating with Emory University on the development of a therapeutic vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, with a specific focus on head and neck cancer (HNC). This is an important research area as there are currently no medical treatments for chronic HPV infections, which can lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. The GeoVax/Emory collaboration will include testing GeoVax’s MVA-VLP-HPV vaccine candidates in therapeutic animal models of HPV in the laboratory of Dr. Rafi Ahmed, Director of the Emory Vaccine Center. Dr. Ahmed, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is a world-renowned immunologist whose work during the past decade has been highly influential in shaping understanding of memory T cell differentiation and T and B cell-mediated antiviral immunity. We believe our collaboration with Emory on the HPV project is extremely valuable as it was Dr. Ahmed who first discovered in 2006 that the PD-1 pathway could also be exploited by many pathogens to repress normal T cell function during chronic viral infection. This led to development of numerous blockbuster anti-PD1 antibodies currently being used for treatment of various cancers and which hold promise as adjunctive therapy for several chronic infectious diseases. In HIV, Ebola, Zika, and Lassa Fever, our MVA-VLP vaccine candidates have demonstrated eliciting strong antigen-specific T cell responses in the host, a response that is critical to fight against HPV infections in HNC patients. To increase the therapeutic efficacy of our HPV vaccine, we intend to apply a combination strategy which could include co-administration of anti-PD1 antibodies and/or other newly discovered immunotherapy drugs to improve a patient’s own anti-cancer immune response.

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