Hoth Therapeutics has reached an agreement with Voltron Therapeutics to form a joint venture entity, to be named HaloVax, to commence preclinical studies for the development of vaccine prospects to prevent the Coronavirus (COVID-19) based upon VaxCelerate.
VaxCelerate is a self-assembling vaccine (SAV) platform exclusively licensed by Voltron from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
Hoth and Voltron, with the support of MGH, will work jointly on exploring and developing this SAV technology as a means to aid patients at risk of being infected with COVID-19. The VaxCelerate vaccine platform was developed as a means of rapidly generating and pre-clinically testing a new vaccine against specific pathogen targets. The technology which received Department of Defense (DoD) funding has demonstrated proof of concept in Lassa Fever, an emerging infectious disease. HaloVax intends to use these same SAV principles to assist in the development of a potential vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hoth believes VaxCelerate offers two unique elements to combat the Coronavirus – one fixed immune adjuvant and one variable immune targeting and offers several potential advantages over other compounds in combination therapy. In infectious applications, it allows rapid development against viruses and other pathogens. The vaccine focuses on both DNA and internal / external mutated proteins providing the immune system with more potential targets to attack.
VaxCelerate was created by Dr. Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, and Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand, MD, who will both continue to support its research and development. Dr. Poznansky is the Director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) and a Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Poznansky will serve as both scientific founder and scientific advisory board member of Halovax to help advise on the early clinical research and implementation of testing in the hospital setting.
Dr. Gelfand is an infectious disease specialist in Boston, Massachusetts. He received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Dr. Gelfand’s specializes in infectious disease. He is also a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, where he has developed a novel approach for targeting (tumor) antigens whose sequence may not be known or structure even identified.
Dr. Mark Poznansky, Director, Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, of MGH stated, “The team at the Vaccine and Immunology Center at Massachusetts General Hospital is focused on developing a self-assembling vaccine (SAV) for COVID-19 through its existing VaxCelerate platform. The mobilization of T-cells in the eradication of viruses is well documented. Our experience in proof of concept studies supports the ability of the SAV to evoke immune responses to viruses. Through our partnership with Voltron, we look forward to collaborating to bring this technology to the clinic and exploring how it can potentially be used to prevent the virus in the population at large and especially individuals who are at risk for the most serious consequences of COVID-19 infection.”
Dr. Michael Callahan, Chief of Translational Medicine, Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, of MGH said, “We believe this SAV technology developed at the VIC, which has proof of concept data in infectious diseases and oncology in four animal models, has the potential to assist in the rapid development and testing of products to prevent, intercept or treat COVID-19. The customizable cellular immunity generated by the SAV may safely and effectively protect patients worldwide.”
Dr. Andrew Herr, PhD, Hoth’s Scientific Advisor, will work closely with Dr. Pozansky and Dr. Gelfand. Dr. Herr is an associate professor in the Division of Immunobiology and Center for Systems Immunology, with an affiliate appointment in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital within the UC Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Herr completed his thesis work in molecular biophysics from Washington University in St. Louis, and completed his postdoctoral work in structural immunology at the California Institute of Technology as a Damon Runyon Research Fellow. He was recruited to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine as an Ohio Eminent Scholar in Structural Biology before moving to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“COVID-19 is global a pandemic. With the support of Andy Herr, Hoth’s Scientific Advisor and professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cincinnati, we intend to leverage our resources to develop products designed to prevent this deadly virus. We believe that the VaxCelerate technology has the potential to provide a differentiated approach to finding a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Mr. Robb Knie, Chief Executive Officer of Hoth.
Pursuant to the agreement, Hoth shall be granted the right to receive single digit royalties from the sale of any products developed, and shall have the right to acquire up to a 30% equity interest in HaloVax.
Source: Company Press Release