Adeno-associated virus-like particles offer potential as prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against cancer and infections, for example. The idea of using adeno-associated viruses (AAV) as a vaccine was developed in Medigene’s laboratories. The adeno-associated virus is non-pathogenic, i.e. it does not cause disease. The virus protein shell, the capsid, is suited for the production of so-called virus-like particles (VLP), which can be used as a basis for novel vaccines.
By inserting short antigenic peptides (B-cell epitopes) into the AAV capsid, a highly specific antibody reaction against selected target molecules can be induced. These antibodies can protect the body from disease (i.e. have a prophylactic effect) or act as a therapy against existing diseases.
Medigene is currently conducting research into the application of AAVLP technology for the treatment of cancer and viral infections, and is examining the possibility of using AAV libraries to systematically identify suitable vaccine candidates. The key benefit of this innovative technology is the possibility of transferring the mode of action of existing therapeutic antibodies directly into a vaccine.
This approach constitutes an interesting alternative to conventional vaccines and may also significantly widen the range of applications for vaccines against cancer and other diseases. In nonclinical studies, AAVLP-based vaccines candidates have shown promising data. In 2012, Medigene presented positive nonclinical data generated during a collaboration with renowned researchers of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA.
A preclinical cross-protection long-term study in cooperation with Pennsylvania State University with the aim of demonstrating long-term protection against various human papilloma virus (HPV) infections has been completed. Preliminary preclinical results point to a successful protection against several important subtypes of HPV viruses. The final results of the study are currently under evaluation.