Georgia Patent of the Month – June 2023

Advancements in scientific research and technology have paved the way for innovative solutions to combat infectious diseases. One such breakthrough comes from GeoVax Inc, a leading biotechnology company focused on developing vaccines for viral infections. In a recent development, GeoVax has introduced a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vector that shows promising potential for generating an immune response against the Zika virus.

The MVA vector developed by GeoVax contains a nucleic acid sequence encoding the Zika virus nonstructural 1 (NS1) protein, a key antigen responsible for triggering an immune response. This nucleic acid sequence is placed under the control of a promoter compatible with poxvirus expression systems, ensuring efficient expression of the viral protein. 

The recombinant MVA vector offers several advantages over traditional vaccine approaches. Firstly, it provides a platform for incorporating the desired nucleic acid sequences, such as the NS1 protein, into specific deletion sites within the vector. This allows for precise control over the expression and production of the viral protein, enhancing the vaccine’s efficacy.

Additionally, the MVA vector can be formulated into a pharmaceutical composition suitable for various modes of administration, including intraperitoneal, intramuscular, intradermal, epidermal, mucosal, or intravenous routes. This versatility ensures that the vaccine can be delivered effectively to different populations and tailored to their specific needs.

The effectiveness of the vaccine is further demonstrated by its ability to induce a strong immune response against the Zika virus. Upon administration of the recombinant MVA vector, it triggers the production of binding antibodies and neutralizing antibodies, both of which play a crucial role in preventing and combating viral infections. Furthermore, the vaccine also stimulates a cell-mediated immune response, enhancing the overall protective effect.

Notably, the vaccine’s potential extends beyond prevention, as it also offers a method for treating Zika virus infections. Administering the recombinant MVA vector to subjects exposed to the virus but not yet symptomatic can help stimulate an immune response, potentially reducing the severity and duration of the infection.

To ensure the vaccine’s efficacy, the nucleic acid sequences within the MVA vector can be optimized using various methods, such as codon optimization, interruption of homopolymer stretches, and disruption of transcription terminator motifs. These optimization techniques aim to enhance protein expression by the MVA vector, thereby maximizing the immune response generated by the vaccine.

The urgency for an effective Zika virus vaccine cannot be overstated, given the potential for outbreaks and the lack of specific treatments or preventive measures. Currently in an IND-Enabling phase, GeoVax’ innovative recombinant MVA vector provides a promising avenue for addressing this urgent global health challenge. 

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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