Over 33 million people are believed to be infected with HIV globally with 2.7 million new infections occurring annually. HIV is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.
Although there is no cure for HIV infection, there are treatment options that can help people living with HIV experience long and productive lives including combination therapies and antivirals. Unfortunately, most of these treatments are expensive making them out of reach for HIV infected persons in the poorest of nations. Ideally, someone will develop an HIV vaccine that prevents transmission of the virus. However, HIV’s envelope mutates easily making the development of a vaccine unattainable thus far.
The GeoVax Approach
GeoVax is a biotech company in Atlanta, GA that is developing an HIV vaccine using virus like particles that display the trimeric membrane bound form of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein. Their approach focuses on raising cellular immune responses in addition to antibodies, which together can better control HIV-1 infections than either can alone. Their method of stimulating high T-cells frequencies and antibodies in the vaccinated person is to combine DNA vaccine priming with a recombinant live virus MVA vaccine boost. This prime/boost combination has been shown to elicit a protective immune response in preclinical primate models and holds high promise for eliciting responses that will protect humans against the development of HIV/AIDS.
How VGXI Helped
GeoVax already had their plasmid made by several other CMO’s prior to approaching VGXI. Our AIRMIX™ technology produced higher yields and shorter delivery times lowering GeoVax’s cost per patient.
“VGXI took our first plasmid in its existing cell bank, plugged it into their standard process, and immediately increased the yield while reducing processing time. It was this experience that drew us to VGXI for our latest production. The new project involves a plasmid that is bigger than our first one. With the latest project, VGXI was able to take our plasmid from process development through fill-finish with excellent purity, quick turnaround, and smooth project execution,” said Michael Hellerstein, Director of Quality Control.