HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., July 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- COVAXX, a subsidiary of United Biomedical, Inc. and a recognized leader in antibody diagnostics and vaccine development, announced the appointment of Farshad Guirakhoo, Ph.D. as its Chief Scientific Officer and the appointments of leading vaccine experts, George Siber, M.D., Thomas Monath, M.D. and Wayne Koff, Ph.D. to its Scientific Advisory Board.
"COVAXX is developing the first COVID-19 Multitope Peptide-based Vaccine (MPV) to generate rapid, broad and durable protection with the aim of delivering the first 100 million doses to patients by early 2021," said Lou Reese, co-CEO of COVAXX. "We are thrilled to have these leaders in vaccine development join our team."
Farshad Guirakhoo, Ph.D. will oversee COVAXX's drug discovery and research activities as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). He has more than 30 years of experience in developing vaccines against infectious diseases, and was named one of the "50 Most Influential People in Vaccines" in Vaccine Nation's 2014 list. He was previously CSO of GeoVax, and Chief Technology Officer at Vaxess Technologies and CSO at Hookipa Pharma. Before that, he served as Executive Director at Sanofi Pasteur, and Head of Virology Research at Acambis. He co-invented the ChimeriVax technology platform that has been successfully used in the development of vaccines against Japanese encephalitis (IMOJEV™), a single dose veterinary vaccine for the prevention of West Nile encephalitis (PREVNILE™) and DENGVAXIA®, the world's first dengue vaccine and a milestone for half of the world population who lives at risk of dengue.
"By leveraging a proven vaccine platform, we have designed a multiple epitope vaccine against COVID-19 that activates both humoral (antibody) and cellular (T cells) arms of patients' own immune systems without the risk of vaccine-mediated disease enhancement. COVAXX is pioneering a truly innovative and high probability approach to tackle one of the world's most important scientific challenges," said Dr. Guirakhoo.
Members of the COVAXX Scientific Advisory Board include:
George Siber, M.D. is an internationally recognized vaccine expert with decades of experience in developing innovative vaccines. Dr. Siber's prior professional experiences include serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Wyeth Vaccines Research where he oversaw the development, approval and marketing of six innovative childhood vaccines including Prevenar 7, the first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Meningitec, the first Meningococcal C conjugate vaccine, Rotashield, the first rotavirus vaccine and FluMist, the first live nasal influenza vaccine. Prevenar 7 has dramatically reduced the burden of pneumococcal disease in the countries that have introduced it, becoming the world's largest selling vaccine. Dr. Siber is currently a co-founder and Board Member of Affinivax and serves on the board of Genocea, as well as consultant to the Gates Foundation, PATH and the Wellcome Trust. He has received multiple awards including the 2016 Albert Sabin Gold Medal in vaccinology.
"I am very excited about the COVAXX vaccine platform. It is very quick, it is very scalable, and the neutralizing responses they are seeing are extremely impressive. They frankly knocked my socks off!" said Dr. Siber.
Wayne C. Koff, Ph.D. is currently the President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project. Prior, Dr. Koff served as Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Research and Development at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and as Chief of the Vaccine Research and Development Branch, Division of AIDS, at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he led the team that established the pre-clinical and clinical AIDS vaccine development programs for the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Koff has published more than 100 scientific papers and edited eight books on vaccine development and was twice honored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the Special Act of Service Award for developing innovative strategies for accelerating global efforts in AIDS vaccine development.
"Preclinical data are very promising, and I very much look forward to seeing how this candidate performs in humans," said Dr. Koff.
Thomas P. Monath, M.D. currently serves as managing partner and Chief Scientific Officer of Crozet BioPharma LLC. He was formerly the Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Operating Officer of BioProtection Systems, a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corporation, where he led the development of an Ebola virus vaccine in partnership with Merck. Prior, Dr. Monath held various industry roles at PaxVax Inc., Hookipa Biotech AG, Juvaris Inc., Xcellerex Inc., and Acambis Inc. before its acquisition by Sanofi Pasteur. In these roles, he led the development of a broad array of vaccines, including those against influenza, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, yellow fever, cytomegalovirus, and smallpox viruses, as well as against Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficile; four of these are now licensed. He is a former partner of the Pandemic and Bio Defense Fund at Kleiner Perkins and previously served for 20 years at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases. Dr. Monath has published over 425 papers and six books in the field of virology and vaccine development.
"I am very impressed with the scientific ability, creativity and maturity of COVAXX and UBI as a vaccine developer," said Dr. Monath. "This vaccine which stimulates both arms of immune response is clearly differentiated over many of the others in development."
"This distinguished group of scientific leaders will provide COVAXX with advice and guidance as we continue to develop and progress our COVID-19 vaccine," said Mei Mei Hu, co-CEO of COVAXX.
COVAXX is a U.S.-based subsidiary of the UBI group of companies founded in 1985 and based in New York. UBI and its healthcare subsidiaries have remained recognized leaders in antibody diagnostics and vaccine development and manufacturing for chronic and infectious diseases for more than 30 years. The company has developed an antibody blood screening test for COVID-19 and is focused on rapidly developing the first Multitope Peptide-based Vaccine for COVID-19.
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