Australian biotech Admedus Limited has announced it is proceeding this month with Phase II of their Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV-2) study, a therapeutic vaccine that could treat and prevent the spread of the herpes virus.
“The study is the next step in realizing the potential of the HSV-2 therapeutic vaccine, building on the positive data shown in the Phase I study where this vaccine was able to stimulate a T-cell response against the virus,” chief executive officer Lee Rodne said in an interview with Proactive Investors Australia.
This isn’t the first time pharmaceutical companies have attempted to tackle the prevailing herpes outbreak, a virus that at this time is incurable and suffered by 16% of Americans age 15-49, according to the Center for Disease Control. Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have all put up hopeful vaccines, but with little result.
The difference with Professor Ian Frazer’s Admedus vaccine is the new focus on T-cells, which stimulates an immune response so the body can combat the virus, versus the previously held contention that B-cells were the primary culprit.
There are other companies fast at work on the same bandwagon, however. San Diego’s Vical and Massachusetts biotechs Genocea Biosciences and Agenus held clinical trials last with T-cell -centered HSV-2 vaccines, and the results have been promising.
Just last month scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University announced their experimental herpes vaccine that works by deleting a “Trojan horse” protein has been very successful in research done with mice, though human trials could be years away.
It’s a race for a piece of the estimated $6 billion market for this unfulfilled medical need. But Frazer’s track record with the success of linking the human papilloma virus (HPV) to cervical cancer could be the key to Admedus crossing the finish line first.
Admedus expects that recruitment for the Phase II study will be completed this quarter, with interim results scheduled to be released later this year.