Aeras (Rockville, MD)

Africa: TB, HIV and Malaria Vaccine Research Gets Major Boost

press release

Aeras, a nonprofit biotech advancing TB vaccines for the world, the University of Oxford and Okairos, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in T-cell vaccines, today announced a $2.9 million grant to Aeras in support of a collaboration among the three parties to support the development of vaccines against tuberculosis, HIV and malaria.

The grant, provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, allows the three groups to work together to develop scalable methods to enable large-scale production of multiple novel chimpanzee adenovirus vector constructs.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership with Okairos focusing on novel constructs utilizing chimpanzee adenovirus for next generation TB vaccines, as well as our collaboration with the University of Oxford, both of which are central to our organizational mission,” said Tom Evans, MD, Interim CEO of Aeras. "This effort to improve optimization and scale up under current good manufacturing practices could also potentially benefit our peers in HIV and malaria vaccine development.”

Novel constructs to be pursued include Okairos’ proprietary technology platform that uses potent chimpanzee adenovirus vectors to stimulate robust T-cell and antibody responses against selected antigens.

Dr Riccardo Cortese, Chief Executive Officer of Okairos, said: “This new collaboration will enable us to advance our promising technology platform. By continuing to work with Aeras and Oxford, partners with proven expertise in vaccines development, we ultimately aim to deliver novel vaccines to developing countries where there is great need.”

Aeras and Oxford both bring to the collaboration considerable expertise in vaccine development and manufacturing, with Oxford currently developing multiple vaccines, including vaccines against HIV, malaria and TB in clinical trials in the UK and Africa, and Aeras focusing primarily on tuberculosis vaccine research and development.

“Chimpanzee adenovirus-based vaccines have recently been shown to safely induce exceptionally potent cellular immunity in adults, children and infants, and are in clinical trials involving over 1,000 vaccinees in seven countries,” commented Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “The diseases targeted, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, are the greatest infectious killers of our time so this investment in manufacturing technology is very timely.”

About Aeras Aeras is a nonprofit biotech advancing TB vaccines for the world. In collaboration with global partners in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe, Aeras is supporting the clinical testing of six experimental vaccines as well as a robust portfolio of earlier stage candidates.

Aeras is based in Rockville, Maryland, Cape Town, South Africa, and Beijing, China.

For more information, visit website.

About Oxford University’s Medical Sciences

Division Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, with over 2,500 people involved in research and more than 2,800 students. The University is rated the best in the world for medicine, and it is home to the UK’s top-ranked medical school.

From the genetic and molecular basis of disease to the latest advances in neuroscience, Oxford is at the forefront of medical research. It has one of the largest clinical trial portfolios in the UK and great expertise in taking discoveries from the lab into the clinic.

Partnerships with the local NHS Trusts enable patients to benefit from close links between medical research and healthcare delivery.

A great strength of Oxford medicine is its long-standing network of clinical research units in Asia and Africa, enabling world-leading research on the most pressing global health challenges such as malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and flu. Oxford is also renowned for its large-scale studies which examine the role of factors such as smoking, alcohol and diet on cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

About Okairos

Okairos is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, developing genetic vaccines for major infectious diseases - including malaria, hepatitis C, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus and cancer - using a novel proprietary technology. The company is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and has laboratories in Rome and Naples, Italy.

Okairos' technology platform is centered on the development of new, potent adenovirus vectors to generate a pipeline of T-cell vaccines against a range of infectious diseases for which there is currently no effective vaccine. Okairos and its collaborators have vaccinated over 700 patients with Okairos’ proprietary vectors, and in all cases have seen a strong immune response and excellent safety profile. The company is also pursuing therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer.

The company’s investors include BioMedInvest, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, LSP, Novartis Venture Funds and Versant Ventures. For more information, visit.

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