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TORONTO -- Generex Biotechnology Corporation announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, Antigen Express, has established collaborations with Emory University and the Imperial College of London to develop a novel smallpox vaccine. The vaccine is based on proprietary Antigen Express technology employing modified peptide antigens to stimulate immunity. The collaboration brings together one of the pre-eminent investigators on vaccinia, Dr. Geoffrey Smith of the Imperial College, and the noted immunologist Dr. Rafi Ahmed of Emory University. Dr. Robert Humphreys, founder of Antigen Express, will coordinate the program at Antigen Express.
Antigen Express has developed proprietary technologies that dramatically enhance the immunogenicity of small fragments from viral or tumor-associated proteins. "This is a particularly attractive strategy in the case of bioterror agents such as smallpox," said Robert Humphreys, founder and chief scientific officer of Antigen Express. "The manufacture of small peptides is trivial compared to whole virus and safety concerns are virtually negligible. We are excited and fortunate to be able to work with such distinguished individuals as Drs. Geoffrey Smith and Rafi Ahmed on this project."
The specter of a smallpox bioterror attack has pointed to the need for a safer smallpox vaccine. The frequency of adverse reactions to the existing vaccinia virus used for vaccination against smallpox is high enough as to prevent mass vaccinations. While attempts have been made at generating safer vaccines, none have been developed that are thought to be safe enough today for widespread use. Dr. Geoffrey Smith of the Imperial College of London has studied extensively the immunological responses to vaccinia and is a recognized leader in this field. His investigations have been instrumental both in identifying the key proteins to use as vaccines as well as model systems wherein to characterized potential vaccines.
Dr. Rafi Ahmed has a long-standing interest in the ability of the immune system to remember prior exposures to an infectious agent and respond appropriately to subsequent infections, focusing both on HIV and vaccinia. This is of particular interest in the context of Antigen Express technologies for stimulation of T helper cells, which have long been shown to play a key role in immunological memory and are critical in mounting a robust response. Antigen Express has demonstrated the potential of this technology in preclinical models and plans to begin clinical trials in patients with breast cancer during the first quarter of this year.
Source: Generex Biotechnology Corporation