Profectus receives grant to develop vaccine for Nipah and Hendra viruses

Profectus BioSciences, Inc. (Profectus), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against infectious diseases and cancers, announced May 2 it received a grant under the Partnerships for Biodefense RFA from the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH. This $5.6M award supports the preclinical development of Hendra virus soluble G (HeV?sG) as a vaccine for use in humans against either Nipah or Hendra virus infection.

Nipah virus (NiV) and Hendra virus (HeV) are closely related paramyxoviruses that cause a respiratory and encephalitis disease in humans and a variety of animal hosts. The natural reservoir for these viruses is the flying fox (bats of the genus Pteropus) found in Australia, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Human infections have occurred after exposure to tissues and
secretions from infected horses, pigs and bats or contaminated food products. There is currently no approved vaccine against either NiV or HeV and death is certain for more than 75 percent of the cases.

These viruses are classified as biothreat agents by the NIH and CDC and agriculture threat agents by the USDA. In fact, the Meningoencephalitis Virus (MEV?1), the subject of the recent cinematic release “Contagion,” was modeled after the Nipah virus.

HeV?sG represents the ectodomain of the G glycoprotein of Hendra virus that mediates viral infection of its target cell. HeV?sG was created in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher C. Broder at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. The potential of HeV?sG as a subunit vaccine against these deadly pathogens was first shown in animal models by Dr. Broder and his collaborators at CSIRO AAHL, Geelong, Australia. Recently, non?human primate efficacy studies were performed in collaboration between Dr. Broder and Dr. Thomas Geisbert at the Galveston National Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch. All of these animal studies have confirmed that vaccination with HeV?sG protects against disease after infection with otherwise lethal doses of either NiV or HeV.

Profectus is collaborating with these investigators to develop the HeV?sG subunit vaccine for use in humans. Profectus is also collaborating with Catalent Pharma Solutions (Middleton, WI) to access their proprietary GPEx® technology to produce high yield mammalian cell lines for cGMP production of HeV?sG.

Profectus BioSciences, Inc.
is a technology?based vaccine company devoted to the treatment and prevention of infectious disease and related cancer, with the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality. Since its inception in 2003, the company’s strategic intent has been to acquire and develop the technologies needed to achieve this goal. The company has licensed a group of vaccine?based technologies from Wyeth Vaccines (now Pfizer, Inc.) that greatly enhance the immunogenicity of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines based on a “prime?boost” strategy.

This strategy uses the delivery of a best?in?class pDNA vaccine to “prime” the immune system, followed by a first?in?class “boost” with an rVSV vector. Current targets, in addition to Henipavirus, include Ebola and Marburg viruses, hepatitis C virus (HCV), human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV?2), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and malaria.

Partners and collaborators include Ichor Medical Systems, the Galveston National Laboratory, Yale University, the Institute of Human Virology, the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology, the National Cancer Institute, the NIH Division of AIDS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the HIV Vaccines Trials Network, and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group.

Source: Profectus Biosciences, Inc.