CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Rational Vaccines today announced a license agreement for the work of leading Louisiana State University virologist Dr. Konstantin 'Gus' Kousoulas from LSU's School of Veterinary Medicine in the Division of Biotechnology & Molecular Medicine (BioMMED) that furthers Rational's core mission of eliminating the herpes virus. The vaccine technology, known as VC2, demonstrated great promise in the treatment of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) as well as facial and ocular herpes in a number of animal model studies.
"We are so very excited about adding this incredible science to the Rational Vaccines arsenal and partnering with Louisiana State University in the fight against HSV," said Rational CEO Agustin Fernandez. "Our lead candidate RVX201 promises to be a robust therapeutic for those who suffer from HSV2. Dr. Kousoulas' work expands on that promise. Our hope is that deployment of VC2 as a prophylactic vaccine will one day eradicate the HSV1 virus, which affects over 4 billion people worldwide."
The VC2 vaccines target facial, ocular and genital herpes caused by HSV-1, but may also provide protection against genital herpes causes by HSV-2.
"We are one step closer to eradicating the herpes virus," said Kousoulas, "Taking our research and moving it into clinical trials through Rational Vaccines ensures a clear path to delivering a vaccine that can ease pain and suffering from herpes."
What makes VC2, a live-attenuated vaccine candidate, so unique is that it is engineered in a way that prevents the virus from entering the neurons, said Kousoulas, who recently joined Rational Vaccines as Vice President of Scientific Affairs. HSV typically infiltrates a person's neurons and remains latent within the nervous system and can reactivate to cause substantial disease. Some patients can even be asymptomatic carriers, spreading the virus through skin contact while showing no signs of infection themselves.
Unlike vaccines that use individual viral proteins to vaccinate patients, VC2 is a live-attenuated, engineered version of HSV-1. Because VC2 prevents HSV from entering the neurons of the body Kousoulas believes that it is a safe and effective option for the prevention and potential therapeutic treatment of herpes. VC2 also replicates well in many validated vaccine production cell lines, making it cost effective to produce and therefore more accessible to patients.
Kousoulas said his team's research has been able to demonstrate that the live-attenuated HSV-1 VC2 vaccine strain is unable to establish latency in vaccinated animals and produces a robust immune response capable of completely protecting mice against lethal ocular and vaginal HSV-1 or HSV-2 infections. He said the guinea pig represents the best small animal model of genital HSV-2 disease, and the initial research on VC2 and its potential results can be reviewed here: https://bit.ly/3bdu1s4
The licensing of VC2 is a significant milestone for Rational Vaccines as they strive to eradicate the herpes virus.
"The signing of this license agreement is an important event for our ongoing live-attenuated vaccine development program and is reflective of our optimism and commitment to rapidly advancing the program," said Dr. Edward Gershburg, chief technology officer. "We anticipate that multiple HSV vaccines will be necessary for the goal of broad public health protection. The VC2 mutant, which has shown safety and efficacy in animal studies, if successfully developed, will become a critical vaccine to address the ongoing "silent" HSV epidemic."
About Rational Vaccines
Rational Vaccines develops rationally engineered, live attenuated viral immunotherapeutic and prophylactic vaccine candidates, particularly focused on combating all diseases resulting from herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) infections. Led by our team of world-renowned scientists and closely following all regulatory guidelines, the company currently has seven vaccine candidates in the pipeline. We are confident our team and technology will revolutionize the treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of herpes and herpes-related diseases so we can bring hope and healing to a world suffering from these recurring infections. Based in Cambridge, MA, Rational Vx is also joining the battle against COVID-19 with a serological assay currently in development, and a future COVID-19 vaccine planned.
SOURCE Rational Vaccines