ExpreS2ion Biotech announces clinical trial update for the PamVac (Placental Malaria Vaccine) phase I study

PamVac (Placental Malaria Vaccine) phase I study

ExpreS2ion Biotech announces the second successful evaluation of safety by the independent safety monitoring board for the phase Ia clinical trial of the placental malaria vaccine candidate, PAMVAC. Due to the trial’s staggered approach, the second evaluation allows initiation of the phase Ib clinical trial to be conducted in Benin, Africa. The clinical trial is funded by the EU under the FP7 program and coordinated by associate professor Morten A Nielsen at University of Copenhagen in collaboration with University of Tübingen, Université d'Abomey-Calavi, European Vaccine Initiative, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, and ExpreS2ion Biotech.

Placental malaria

Women, who have acquired immunity against malaria during childhood, nevertheless become susceptible to malaria again during their first pregnancies. Parasites accumulate in the placenta, where a combination of altered blood flow and expression of chondroitin sulphate A (CSA) provides a new niche for parasites to sequester. Malaria in pregnant women thus constitutes a major health problem in areas south of the Sahara, manifesting as severe disease, anemia in the mother, impaired fetal development, low birth weight or spontaneous abortion. Placental malaria has been estimated by the WHO to be responsible for 20,000 maternal and 200,000 infant deaths annually. Fortunately, women acquire immunity against placental malaria, and in malaria endemic areas the average birth weight is significantly higher among second- and third- compared to first-born babies. This relatively fast development of protection has raised the hope that a vaccine for placental malaria can be developed.

Worldwide collaborations on the vaccine

In 2003 Professor Ali Salanti and others at University of Copenhagen discovered the antigen VAR2CSA, which enable parasite accumulation in the placenta. Since then collaborations with many groups around the world, especially Professor Philippe Deloron at Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France, has enabled the preclinical development of the vaccine. The European Vaccine Initiative has been instrumental in the mobilization of funds and in the clinical development of the vaccine, where its fast-track strategy is implemented allowing a more efficient development of the vaccine candidate. The phase Ia clinical trial is led by Professor Benjamin Mordmüller (University of Tübingen) and the phase Ib trial is led by Dr. Saadou Issifou (Institut de Recherche Clinique du Bénin). Preparations for a Phase II clinical trial are led by Professor Achille Massougbodji (Université d'Abomey-Calavi), Dr Jean-Philippe Chippaux (Institut de Recherche pour le Developement) and Dr Adrian JF Luty (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement).

ExpreS2ion Biotech contributed to the collaboration through supply of protein antigen variants for selection of the best candidate, as well as developing the production cell line and manufacturing process. Copenhagen University obtained a license to the ExpreS2 system for the production of the PAMVAC vaccine antigen.

The clinical trial

To induce high concentrations of specific IgGs, subjects will receive escalating doses of PAMVAC vaccine antigen adjuvanted with Alhydrogel, GLA-emulsion or GLA-liposome. Three injections with the same dosage and adjuvant will be done, each 28 days apart (Day 0, 28 and 56). Dosage escalation will be staggered to ensure safety during the trial. Control subjects will receive physiological saline instead of the vaccine. The clinical trial is a phase I, staggered, two-center, dose-escalation trial. The trial will be conducted in two stages. The first in Germany (first in man and dose escalation) and the second in a malaria-endemic area in the target group (randomized, controlled, dose-finding). First in man administration and dose escalation from 20 to 50 μg per injection of PAMVAC adjuvanted with Alhydrogel, GLA-emulsion or GLA-liposome will be done in healthy, malaria-naïve adults in Germany (phase 1a). Subsequently, PAMVAC will be administered to healthy, lifelong malaria exposed nulligravid women in Benin at doses of 50 and 100 μg, adjuvanted with Alhydrogel and GLA-emulsion (phase Ib). In Benin, one group will receive a placebo control (physiological saline). Allocation to placebo, PAMVAC+Alhydrogel or PAMVAC+GLA-emulsion, will be randomized. Each dose-escalation is conditional on a positive safety assessment by an independent safety monitoring board (ISMB) and sponsor approval. One individual of each PAMVAC-adjuvant combination will serve as sentinel. The sentinel will be injected one day before the rest of the group. There will be a minimum of four weeks stagger between the first immunizations in phase Ia and phase Ib.

Grant Funding: The PAMCPH project supporting the cGMP manufacture of the vaccine was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and European Vaccine Initiative, the PlacMalVac (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) project supporting the cGMP manufacture, clinical trial and preparation for phase II was funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, FP7-HEALTH-2012-INNOVATION under grant agreement n° 304815 (http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp7/index_en.cfm?pg=health), the preclinical development of the vaccine was supported by Danish Advanced Technology Foundation under grant number 005-2011-1 (http://innovationsfonden.dk/en).

CEO Steen Klysner comments

“This is a very exciting project and we now look forward to the outcome of the trial. I also note that this further validates the regulatory acceptance of the ExpreS2 platform under GMP for clinical use"

For further information about ExpreS2ion, please contact:

Steen Klysner, CEO
Telephone: +45 2062 9908
E-mail: sk@expres2ionbio.com

This press release contains information that ExpreS2ion is obligated to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out above, at 12.00 CET, July the 28th 2016.

About ExpreS2ion

ExpreS2ion Biotech Holding AB, with company register number 559033-3729, has through the wholly owned Danish subsidiary ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies ApS, developed a platform technology enabling cost effective and robust production of complex proteins for the development of vaccines and diagnostics for e.g. Malaria and Zika. Since foundation in 2010, the subsidiary has used its patented ExpreS2 platform to produce more than 200 proteins in collaboration with research institutions and biopharmaceutical companies, with an efficiency and success rate superior to competing technologies.

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About Us

ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies ApS is a fully owned Danish subsidiary of ExpreS2ion Biotech Holding AB with company register number 559033-3729. The subsidiary has developed a unique proprietary platform technology, ExpreS2, that can be used for fast and efficient preclinical and clinical development as well as robust production of complex proteins for new vaccines and diagnostics. Since the Company was founded in 2010, it has produced more than 250 proteins and 35 virus-like particles (VLPs) in collaboration with leading research institutions and companies, demonstrating superior efficiency and success rates. In addition, ExpreS2ion develops novel VLP based vaccines through the joint venture AdaptVac ApS, which was founded in 2017.

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