CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Genocea Biosciences announced today the results of two studies that showcase the company’s efforts to develop the first-ever therapeutic vaccine for HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus type 2). In a poster presentation made at Immunology 2012, the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Immunologists, researchers demonstrated the ability of Genocea’s vaccine candidate (GEN-003) to elicit strong and lasting B and T cell immune responses in preclinical studies. A second presentation highlighted novel insights supporting the hypothesis that a vaccine strategy targeting T cells may provide a significant therapeutic benefit to patients.
Genocea is developing GEN-003 to be the first vaccine to combat HSV-2, which affects up to 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 15 and 49. Unlike previous approaches, GEN-003 is designed to target both the T and B cell arms of the immune system, which are both believed to be critical to mounting an effective and lasting immune response to the virus.
The first study, presented in a poster titled, “HSV-2 antigens formulated with Matrix M-2 induce balanced neutralizing antibody and durable polyfunctional T cell responses in mice,” evaluated the T cell and antibody responses to two antigens selected through Genocea’s proprietary proteomic screen and validated in vivo. T cell responses specific to these antigens were robust and persisted for more than 3 months, providing strong support for the utility of this candidate vaccine. Additional data demonstrating efficacy in pre-clinical models are anticipated this summer, and the company will initiate a clinical trial in the second half of 2012.
The second poster, titled, “The frequency of circulating HSV-2 antigen-specific T cells and antibodies is stable and remains unchanged by HSV-2 reactivation in infected individuals,” presents novel findings demonstrating that despite the fact that HSV-2 presents in patients as a series of intermittent “flare-ups,” levels of peripheral T cells and antibodies remain consistent over time and are not boosted during viral outbreaks. This finding suggests that vaccination to boost T cell and antibody responses is a strategy to overcome the static level of responses that are mounted after chronic re-exposure to the virus.
“We believe that the key to a successful vaccine for HSV-2 is to produce a potent and sustained response in both the T cell and B cell arms of the immune system,” said Chip Clark, President and CEO. “The studies presented today demonstrate the important progress we are making toward the development of this vaccine, and underscore the scientific rationale for our approach.”
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), the most common cause of genital herpes, is a sexually transmitted disease that is estimated to infect more than 500 million people worldwide, and one out of six people aged 15 to 49. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 50-60 million people are affected. HSV-2 infection can cause recurring, painful genital sores, and can be stigmatizing and produce considerable psychological distress in patients. The disease is particularly severe in immunosuppressed patients and poses significant risk to newborns if it is transmitted from mothers during birth. While antiviral drugs are used widely to treat HSV-2, there is neither a cure nor a vaccine for this disease.
About Genocea Biosciences
Genocea Biosciences is harnessing the power of the T cell immunity to develop the next generation of vaccines. T cells are increasingly recognized as a critical element of a protective immune response to a wide range of infectious disease pathogens, but are difficult to target using traditional vaccine discovery methods. Genocea is uniquely able to identify and employ T cell antigens using its proprietary technology platform that mimics human immune response in the laboratory, potentially improving the effectiveness of vaccine candidates and drastically reducing the time needed to create them.
For more information, please visit the company’s website at Genocea.com.