Shares Of GeoVax Rise On NIH Grant for Novel Zika Vaccine

Shares of GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB:GOVX) are trading higher in today’s trade as the biotechnology company developing human vaccines, announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the Company a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant in support of its novel Zika vaccine development program. The grant award of $300,000 will fund the second year of a two-year project period with a total budget of $600,000.

The grant, entitled Advanced Preclinical Testing of a Novel Recombinant Vaccine Against Zika Virus, supports advanced preclinical testing of GeoVax’s vaccine candidate (designated GEO-ZM02) in non-human primates in preparation for human clinical trials. GEO-ZM02 is a novel vaccine approach to protect against Zika virus (ZIKV), using GeoVax’s Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vector to express the ZIKV non-structural protein 1 (NS1).

GEO-ZM02 has demonstrated 100% single-dose protection in normal mice against a lethal dose of ZIKV delivered by intracerebral inoculation at the CDC laboratories in Fort Collins, CO. GEO-ZM02 not only has the potential of a single-dose vaccine, which is practical to combat epidemics in resource-strained countries, but also does not bear the risk of enhancing other flavivirus infections, such as Dengue serotypes 1-4, in vaccinated subjects.

GEO-ZM02 is based on the NS1 protein of ZIKV, which is not packaged into the virions and is not involved in ADE. Moreover, the NS1 protein is abundantly secreted into the blood of a ZIKV-infected individual and has been shown to play a critical role in flavivirus acquisition by mosquitoes by overcoming the immune barrier of the mosquito midgut. Therefore, GEO-ZM02 has the potential to protect both humans and mosquitoes from ZIKV infection; a novel vaccination strategy that could stem epidemics at a low vaccine coverage.

Shares of GOVX are up 2.7% to $0.038 at last check in early-afternoon trading with the stock trading at the lower end of its 52-week trading range.