Soligenix, Inc. last week announced a collaboration agreement with Axel Lehrer, PhD, of the UH Mānoa Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM); and Hawaii Biotech Inc. (HBI) to develop a heat stable subunit Ebola vaccine.
Dr. Lehrer, a co-inventor of the Ebola vaccine with HBI, has shown proof of concept efficacy with subunit Ebola vaccines in non-human primates.
Under the terms of the feasibility agreement, Soligenix will evaluate its proprietary vaccine thermostabilization technology, ThermoVax, licensed from the University of Colorado, to stabilize components of the vaccine.
Ultimately, the objective is to produce a thermostable Ebola vaccine for worldwide distribution that does not require cold storage. ThermoVax has been previously demonstrated to enhance thermostability of both ricin (RiVax) and anthrax (VeloThrax) subunit vaccines. The initial work on the potential Ebola vaccine will focus on a single protein subunit antigen.
The most advanced Ebola vaccines involve the use of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and adenovirus vectors – live, viral vectors that complicate the manufacturing, stability and storage requirements. Dr. Lehrer’s vaccine is based on highly purified recombinant protein antigens, circumventing many of these manufacturing difficulties.
Dr. Lehrer and HBI have developed a robust manufacturing process for the required proteins. Application of ThermoVax may allow for a product that can avoid the need for cold-chain distribution and storage, yielding a vaccine ideal for use in both the developed and developing world.
“There is a great need for a thermostable Ebola vaccine, particularly in areas of the world where Filoviruses are endemic and the power supply uncertain,” stated Dr. Lehrer. “We are delighted to pursue this feasibility work with Soligenix and look forward to a long and productive collaboration.”
“Coupling Soligenix’s thermostabilization technology with Hawaii Biotech’s robust manufacturing processes is likely to yield a much needed vaccine to add to the world’s arsenal against infectious disease and we look forward to working with both Soligenix and JABSOM,” said Dr. Elliot Parks, President and Chief Executive Officer of HBI.
“We believe that creating a vaccine with enhanced stability at elevated temperatures, which can obviate the costs and logistical burdens associated with cold chain storage and distribution, has the potential to provide a distinct advantage over other Ebola vaccines currently in development,” stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix.