Back to Archived News
Vical and the University of Washington Receive U.S. Patent for Herpes Simplex DNA Vaccine
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
San Diego, CA -- Vical Incorporated (Nasdaq:VICL) announced today the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 7,628,993 covering DNA vaccines for herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted virus which is the leading cause of genital herpes. Vical is collaborating under a previously disclosed grant* on the preclinical development of an HSV-2 vaccine which will be designed for use in people already infected with HSV-2, with the goal of reducing or eliminating periodic viral flare-ups and the associated viral shedding and transmission. The vaccine will be evaluated with Vical's Vaxfectin adjuvant.
The new '993 patent covers DNA vaccines targeting a specific HSV-2 protein, formulated with or without Vical's Vaxfectin adjuvant. It adds to Vical's family of patents in the United States and other key regions based on the company's discovery that administering genetic sequences such as DNA or RNA into the body, without the use of viral delivery vehicles, may cause expression of the proteins encoded by the genetic sequences. Vical has additional issued patents covering the composition and use of the Vaxfectin adjuvant.
DNA vaccines encode certain proteins associated with a target pathogen, rather than using any part of the pathogen itself, and can prime the immune system as well as induce potent antibody and T-cell immune responses. DNA vaccines contain no viral particles, are non-infectious, and can be administered on a repeat basis without unwanted immune responses. Additionally, DNA vaccines have the potential to achieve proof of concept more quickly and cost-effectively than conventional vaccines, and can be manufactured using uniform methods of fermentation and purification, allowing significantly faster development and production.
HSV-2 Disease Burden
HSV-2 infections are persistent and result in periodic virus shedding. In the United States, at least 40 million people are infected with HSV-2, and approximately 1.6 million people are newly infected each year, with approximately 500,000 of those suffering from disease symptoms. Even higher infection rates are evident in developing countries, with further complications in people also infected with HIV. There is currently no approved vaccine for HSV-2. Although antiviral regimens have become a standard of care, their inconvenience, cumulative cost over the years and potential for drug resistance highlight the need for safe, new approaches to reducing HSV-2 lesions, shedding, and transmission. Estimated direct costs of treating HSV-2 in the United States alone are close to $1 billion annually, primarily for drugs and outpatient medical care, plus additional indirect costs of more than $200 million.
Vical researches and develops biopharmaceutical products based on its patented DNA delivery technologies for the prevention and treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases. Potential applications of the company's DNA delivery technology include DNA vaccines for infectious diseases or cancer, in which the expressed protein is an immunogen; cancer immunotherapeutics, in which the expressed protein is an immune system stimulant; and cardiovascular therapies, in which the expressed protein is an angiogenic growth factor. The company is developing certain infectious disease vaccines and cancer therapeutics internally. In addition, the company collaborates with major pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies that give it access to complementary technologies or greater resources. These strategic partnerships provide the company with mutually beneficial opportunities to expand its product pipeline and address significant unmet medical needs. Additional information on Vical is available at www.vical.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements include statements about the scope of coverage of and potential applications for Vical's patents, the potential uses and benefits of Vical's vaccine technologies and their potential application in vaccines against HSV-2, as well as Vical's focus, collaborative partners, and product candidates. Risks and uncertainties include whether Vical's technology will be successfully applied; whether all funding under the grant will be received by the company; whether the preclinical development efforts will result in a vaccine that can generate immune responses sufficient to reduce or eliminate periodic viral flare-ups and the associated viral shedding and transmission; whether the Vaxfectin(R) adjuvant will effectively enhance the performance of the HSV-2 vaccine; whether Vical or others will advance the HSV-2 vaccine candidate into human clinical testing; whether Vical's issued patents will be challenged and whether such challenges will have an adverse effect on the scope of the patents; whether Vical will pursue enforcement of its issued patents or be successful in any such enforcement efforts; whether Vical will successfully prosecute additional patent applications and if so, whether such applications will lead to the issuance of additional patents; whether any product candidates will be shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials; the timing, nature and cost of clinical trials; whether Vical or its collaborative partners will seek or gain approval to market any product candidates; whether Vical or its collaborative partners will succeed in marketing any product candidates; and additional risks set forth in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements represent the company's judgment as of the date of this release. The company disclaims, however, any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
*Vical is collaborating in the preclinical development of an immunotherapeutic HSV-2 pDNA vaccine with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical Branch under a two-year, $2.0 million Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Back to Archived News