GeoVax Partners with Vivalis for Using EBx Technology to Manufacture MVA HIV/AIDS Vaccine

August 12, 2008
BioPharm International Editors

GeoVax Labs, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) and Vivalis (Nantes, France) have signed a letter of intent (LOI) for joint collaboration and commercial license using Vivalis’s EBx technology to manufacture the MVA component of GeoVax’s HIV-1 vaccine.

GeoVax Labs, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) and Vivalis (Nantes, France) have signed a letter of intent (LOI) for joint collaboration and commercial license using Vivalis’s EBx technology to manufacture the MVA component of GeoVax’s HIV-1 vaccine. This agreement creates a worldwide strategic partnership between Vivalis and GeoVax, designed to combine Vivalis’s vaccine manufacturing technology with GeoVax’s HIV vaccine.

Vivalis's vaccine-manufacturing technology is based on a duck embryonic stem cell substrate platform. The EB66 cell line provides continuous growth from a fully characterized frozen cell bank, without necessitating fertilized embryo extraction and processing, as with present chicken-cell-based technologies. Furthermore, the EB66 cell line can be grown in suspension (without the cells attached to the surface of the growth vessel) and can be scaled up for growth in giant bioreactors (a cutting edge industrial method) for large-scale production of the MVA viral vaccine.

The GeoVax vaccine is a DNA/MVA vaccine that uses recombinant DNA to prime the immune response and then a recombinant MVA virus to boost the immune response. MVA stands for modified vaccinia ankara, a smallpox viral vaccine that was attenuated by replicating the vaccine virus over 500 times in chicken cells. This long series of replications resulted in a derivative of the smallpox vaccine virus, which could grow in chicken cells but that had limited ability to grow in human cells. The poor ability to grow on human cells has made MVA a very safe vaccine vector for humans. However, it also limited the ability to manufacture MVA in the industrial cell lines that have been approved for vaccine production. Rather, MVA had to be grown in chicken cells that rely on harvesting cells from thousands of chicken embryos and using these cells, which are grown in multiple small vessels, for vaccine manufacture. This process can be followed for clinical and commercial production, but is cumbersome. The Vivalis EBx manufacturing technology eliminates such difficulties and enables rapid large-scale production in bioreactors for GeoVax's future commercial needs.

GeoVax release (PDF)

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