GeoVax Forms Oncology Subsidiary for Further Vaccine Development

Immuno oncology therapies for multiple types of cancer has transformed cancer treatments

celebrating in the light of dawn

During a corporate development progress update, David A. Dodd, GeoVax, Inc. CEO, provided a review of various cancer vaccine development programs.

GeoVax uses a novel patented Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) based vaccine platform. 

On this platform, MVA, a large virus capable of carrying several vaccine antigens, expresses proteins that assemble into VLP immunogens within (in vivo) the person receiving the vaccine. 

The production of VLPs in the person being vaccinated mimics virus production in a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control the target infection. 

The MVA-VLP derived vaccines elicit durable immune responses in the host similar to a live-attenuated virus while providing the safety characteristics of a replication-defective vector.

“Immuno-oncology represents an area of significant medical need and our results thus far have been promising,” said Mr. Dodd in this November 7, 2019, press release. 

“In order to facilitate targeted funding of these cancer programs, we are forming a separate subsidiary to house our oncology assets.”

Cancer Immunotherapy Update:

  • We began our work in this area with a single program (tumor-associated MUC1 vaccines) supported by collaborations with the University of Pittsburgh and ViaMune, Inc. and expanded to a second tumor-associated antigen (Cyclin B1) in collaboration with Vaxeal Holding SA. 
  • During 2018, we added additional collaborations to expand our footprint in this space – most notably with Emory University, for HPV-related head and neck cancers, and with Leidos, Inc., to evaluate delivery of Leidos’ novel PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors with our MVA-VLP platform for multiple immunotherapeutic candidates. 
  • To date, in humanized mouse models evaluating our MUC-1 vaccine, we have demonstrated significant tumor reduction, as well as tumor growth prevention.
  • In addition, discussions are underway with other oncology companies about potentially bringing in clinical-stage development programs that would be synergistic with our technology, as well as discussions with private investors regarding capital investment in the oncology subsidiary. 

Mr. Dodd continued, “This update is intended to convey to our stakeholders the continued progress in our cancer development programs.”

“But these issues do not detract from the potential value of our company and the promise of our Immuno-oncology technology is challenging, but not insurmountable.”

Immuno-oncology is the study and development of treatments that take advantage of the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

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Cancer immunotherapy is demonstrating impressive clinical benefits in different malignancies and clinical oncologists are increasingly turning their attention to immune-oncology, reported a 2018 study. 

It is now well recognized that innate and adaptive immune cells infiltrating tumors are associated with clinical outcomes and responses to treatments, and can be harnessed to patients' benefit.

Despite recent achievements, there remain a number of unresolved issues in order to successfully implement cancer immunotherapy in many cancers. Importantly, clinical biomarkers are still needed for better optimization of emerging combination immunotherapies and better treatment tailoring. 

Our immune system is a complex network of organs, cells, and molecules that protects us from foreign substances—such as bacteria and viruses—that can cause infection. In addition to finding and destroying foreign substances, the immune system can also locate and attack abnormal cells.

There are two main parts of the immune system:

  • Innate immunity, a natural and always-present defense system, is the ability of the body to immediately protect itself against foreign organisms and toxins.
  • Adaptive immunity is a learned defense system, created in response to exposure to a specific foreign substance. The adaptive immune system works in one of two ways.

Both an overactive and an underactive immune system can be harmful. Our growing understanding of the health benefits of a balanced immune system has led to the development of immunotherapies as a treatment approach for many types of cancer.

GeoVax Labs, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer using a novel patented Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) based vaccine platform.

Cancer Immuno-therapy news published by Vax Before Cancer