Epimmune scientists report positive pre-clinical data on vaccine designed to combat HIV's ability to mutate

who do not progress to AIDS for long periods even without anti-retroviral drug therapy. Epimmunes approach to vaccine development is based on epitopes from non-mutating regions of multiple virus proteins that are specifically selected for their ability to stimulate two types of cellular immunity, cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs) and helper T-cells (HTLs). Together, CTLs and HTLs comprise the bodys natural defense against HIV in which CTLs are capable of directly destroying virus-infected cells but require HTLs, which produce immune-boosting chemicals, for proper functioning.

Epimmune has designed its vaccine to provide immunity against many HIV clades (HIV strains that are common to a certain geographical region), including those that are prevalent in the United States, Europe, Africa and India. The vaccine is also designed to provide broad population coverage regardless of ethnicity.

Epimmunes vaccine will be delivered as DNA in combination with PVP, a polymer gene delivery technology licensed from Valentis, Inc. The PVP polymer has been shown to increase the efficiency of vaccine uptake by immune cells and enhance potency in animal studies. Epimmune has also linked its HIV vaccine with its proprietary PADRE universal helper T-cell epitope. PADRE is an HTL booster which, when combined with CTL epitopes, enhances the magnitude and duration of the immune response. Finally, the vaccine construct has also been optimized to ensure that the epitopes are processed efficiently and correctly once inside the cell. The epitopes are placed in a specific order (like beads on a string) that allows cellular enzymes to recognize the appropriate places to liberate the epitopes from the chain, thus improving the efficiency and potency of the vaccine.


Contact: Laura Hansen
Epimmune, Inc.

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