New preventative and therapeutic Hepatitis C vaccines:
from pre-clinical to phase 1
The main aim of HEPACIVAC project is the standardization of the parameters to conduct comparable pre-clinical studies and clinical trials for preventative and therapeutic vaccines to Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
For this purpose, two vaccine companies in Europe, OKAIROS (a Biotech company created as a spin-off from Merck Inc.) and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics are joining their efforts with several European groups and one institution from Egypt.
OKAIROS, in collaboration with CEINGE, has developed a gene based HCV vaccine candidate, that encodes for the HCV Non Structural region and utilizes adenoviral vectors for delivery. This vaccine elicits potent T cell responses and works by lowering viral replication, thus preventing chronic hepatitis. A second vaccine candidate is based on capacity of the HCV envelope glycoproteins to elicit neutralizing antibodies.
The two vaccine components will eventually be combined into a single formulation with potential to protect humans from a large number of viral strains.
Novartis will bring in the expertise of the recently acquired Chiron in generating and testing HCV vaccine candidates based on humoral response.
In conclusion, this project will give to the European researchers the opportunity to test promising HCV vaccines based on both arms of the immune response and to standardize the HCV vaccine trials becoming a benchmark study for any other similar study.