Texas Biomed has won an approximately $300,000 commercial contract to assist TheVax Genetics Vaccine Company, a pharmaceutical company in Taiwan, with testing a proprietary HBV vaccine in baboons.
The animals got their first vaccinations on June 12, 2018. Principal Investigator Chris Chen, Ph.D., explains the vaccine delivers a Hepatitis B protein that will activate immune cells. Eight animals will receive six vaccinations over 20 weeks. Then, scientists will be observing the immune response.
The experimental therapy has been tested in mice and pig models. After it is tested in nonhuman primates at the SNPRC, the company plans to begin phase 1 testing in humans.
“Here’s what makes this project unique,” Dr. Chen said. “The idea is the vaccine could potentially work as a therapeutic as well as a prophylactic.” This would be a big breakthrough for the 250 million people around the world who are chronically infected with the HBV virus. Currently, there are no good therapies for this infectious disease. A vaccine that’s 95% effective in preventing hepatitis B infection has been available since 1982.
Much of the work involved in developing a hepatitis B vaccine was conducted in chimpanzees at Texas Biomed. Safety and efficacy testing of the first hepatitis B vaccine was also done at the Institute.
At the Southwest National Primate Research Center and Texas Biomed, Scientists, Veterinarians, Animal Care Staff, the Immunology Core and Research Support Staff are all working on the project.
TheVax was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Taipei City, Taiwan. It focuses on the development of human immune therapy drugs. Most recently, it presented promising data from earlier trials of this vaccine at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in October of 2017. The company is also focusing on treatments for cervical, liver and lung cancer.