Novel hepatitis C vaccine in sight
Paris – A team consisting of French scientists and biotech start-up Epixis SA has developed a novel hepatitis C vaccine based on retrovirus-derived virus-like particles (VLPs) pseudotyped with the heterologous viral envelope proteins Gag, E2 and E1. They have also demonstrated its efficacy in mice and macaques. Led by David Klatzmann from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and Epixis’ CEO Charlotte Dalba, the researchers reported their findings in Science Translational Medicine (DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002330). The antibodies induced by the vaccine against HCV 1a cross-neutralised five other genotypes of HCV, offering hope that it would also beat back mutations as they occur. There is currently no available vaccine for hepatitis C, although several companies are developing therapeutic vaccines that are designed to help patients who are already infected. The VLP platform can be pseudotyped with a vast array of virus envelope glycoproteins, which opens up a new approach to viral vaccine development. Dalba has said she hopes that initial human trials of the vaccine could start in 2012, provided funding was available. According to media reports, Epixis is in the process of being acquired by an undisclosed biotech company based in the US.