MediGene AG (MDGEF.PK) and Johns Hopkins University Sign Development Collaboration for First Vaccine Candidates from MediGene's AAVLP Platform
Martinsried/Munich, May 31, 2011. The biotech company MediGene AG (Frankfurt, Prime Standard) and The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, have agreed to collaborate in the field of AAVLP vaccine technology. The objective of this collaboration is to test vaccine candidates derived from the AAVLP program for the prevention of HPV-associated cancer types, and in so doing to further advance the development of the AAVLP program. The vaccine candidates examined within the framework of this collaboration target at a number of carcinogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV) causing, for example, cervical cancer. The lead investigator will be Richard B. S. Roden, Ph.D., professor of Gynecology/Obstetrics and Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, one of the world's leading scientists in the field of HPV research.
Dr. Frank Mathias, CEO of MediGene AG, commented: "The cooperation with this internationally renowned and outstanding research institution is the first significant step in the advancement of our innovative AAVLP vaccine program. The acknowledged expertise of Dr Roden and his team will be invaluable in the testing of the first AAVLP vaccine candidates in an indication of high medical need."
AAVLP: In its AAVLP program, which is currently at the pre-clinical stage, MediGene is investigating the use of adeno-associated viruses (AAV) as a vaccine. The adeno-associated virus is non-pathogenic, i.e. it does not cause disease. The virus protein shell, the capsid, is suited for the production of so-called virus-like particles (VLP), which can be used as a basis for novel vaccines.
By inserting short antigenic peptides (B-cell epitopes) into the AAV capsid, a highly specific antibody reaction against selected target molecules can be induced in the body. These antibodies can protect the body (i.e. have a prophylactic effect) or act as a therapy against existing diseases.
MediGene is currently conducting research into the application of AAVLP technology for the treatment of cancer and viral infections, and is examining the possibility of using AAV libraries for the systematic identification of suitable vaccine candidates. The key benefit of this technology may be the possibility of transferring the efficacy of existing therapeutic antibodies directly into a vaccine.
In preclinical studies, AAVLP-based vaccines have shown an excellent safety profile. Therefore they may not only constitute an interesting alternative to conventional vaccines, but also significantly widen the range of applications for vaccines against cancer and other diseases.
MediGene holds an extensive IP portfolio regarding the AAVLP technology.
HPV:The term "human papillomaviruses" describes a family of viruses that is capable of infecting the epithelium of the skin or different mucous membranes, causing tumor-like growth. The viruses are typically transmitted through sexual contact. Depending on the HPV type, the consequences of an infection vary in their severity. Some particularly aggressive types of HPV are capable of causing malignant changes, e.g. cervical cancer in women.
Cervical cancer: Cervical carcinoma is the second most common cancer in women, in most cases caused by "high risk" types HPV 16, 18, 31, and 45. Despite extensive screening programs, the worldwide incidence is more than 450,000 new cases annually, with 350,000 deaths annually. About 1-4% of the female population show high-grade cervical dysplasia.
MediGene AG is a publicly listed (Frankfurt: MDG, prime standard) biotechnology company headquartered in Martinsried/Munich, Germany. MediGene is the first German biotech company to have revenues from marketed products. It has various drug candidates in clinical development and possesses innovative platform technologies. MediGene focuses on clinical research and development of novel drugs against cancer and autoimmune diseases.