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ARTES in partnership to develop novel hepatitis C vaccine

news-releasesARTES Biotechnology GmbH
August 5th 2016

Langenfeld, Germany: – ARTES Biotechnology technology provider for recombinant protein production has joined forces with Australia’s Burnet Institute to develop a novel, effective vaccine to prevent transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV).

More than 130 million people globally are carriers of HCV, a blood-borne virus. An HCV vaccine is urgently needed to prevent re-infection in people treated through antiviral therapies and reverse the high global mortality rate from HCV-related liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) at more than 500,000 people annually.

Combining proprietary technologies

The joint project aims to develop a VLP based vaccine that efficiently presents HCV antigens to prevent hepatitis C infection. It combines Burnet’s proprietary HepSeeVaxDelta3™ technology, developed by Associate Professor Heidi Drummer and colleagues, with ARTES’ proprietary METAVAX® technology for the development of chimeric virus-like particle (VLP) based vaccines. The VLPs will present the novel, modified envelope protein (E2) on its surface, thereby targeting the vaccine to dendritic cells to prime and prepare the immune system to fight against hepatitis C infection.

ARTES’ vaccine development platform METAVAX® in combination with the expression host Hansenula polymorpha (recommended by the WHO for hepatitis B vaccine production) is the preferred tool for the development of affordable vaccines. ARTES’ development platform provides a unique approach to low-cost mass production of safe and effective vaccines.

Safe and low cost vaccine

Managing Director of ARTES, Dr Michael Piontek said his company was excited to join forces with Burnet Institute to develop a much-needed vaccine against hepatitis C.

“HCV poses a significant burden on healthcare systems,” noted Dr. Piontek.

“Access to diagnosis and treatment is limited, especially in endemic countries in Africa and Asia, so there is a strong demand for a safe and low-cost vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection. This is in line with the aim of the WHO to realize their hepatitis C elimination targets,” Dr. Piontek commented.

“After out-licensing processes for hepatitis B vaccine production worldwide, ARTES is proud to take the next step together with Burnet Institute in fighting another life-threatening hepatitis infection,” he added.

Overcoming critical limitation

Burnet Institute has re-engineered the major HCV viral surface protein E2 to produce the novel HepSeeVaxDelta3™ vaccine. HepSeeVaxDelta3™ can generate high levels of antibodies to block replication of all seven genotypes of HCV in laboratory tests. This major advance offers a potential universal vaccine to prevent HCV infection worldwide.

HepSeeVaxDelta3™ technology overcomes a critical limitation to HCV vaccine development, according to Deputy Head of Burnet’s Centre for Biomedical Research and HCV vaccine team leader, Associate Professor Heidi Drummer.

“The virus that causes HCV has evolved to avoid the immune system so that in natural infection, key immune responses are delayed or distracted by irrelevant targets on the virus. The same is true for conventional vaccine platforms tested previously. The HepSeeVaxDelta3™ component of the vaccine redirects the immune response to make antibodies on the most important targets that prevent infection against the seven circulating HCV genotypes,” Heidi Drummer explained.

About ARTES Biotechnology

ARTES Biotechnology is a pharmaceutical technology provider that provides cell line and process development for bio-pharmaceutical products and is particularly expert in recombinant protein production, process and vaccine development from microbial expression systems.

The company is a well-established partner for many of the biggest names in the industry, with more than 20 years of business experience, a track record of products developed for and marketed by clients as well as safe, reliable and highly competitive microbial production platforms.

ARTES markets the unique METAVAX® (dHepB-VLP) technology in combination with yeast expression. This ARTES platform is applicable for large and multimeric antigens and is able to create chimeric VLPs. In addition to genetic engineering, the company provides fermentation and downstream process development, analytical assay development and production cell line characterization. ARTES operates worldwide from its 850-sqm S1 facilities in Langenfeld, between Düsseldorf and Cologne.

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About Burnet Institute

Founded in 1986, The Burnet Institute has become Australia’s largest virology and communicable disease research institution.

The mission of this independent, not-for-profit medical research and public health organization is to achieve better health for poor and vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally through research, education and public health.

Based in Melbourne, Victoria, The Burnet Institute has offices and representatives in Myanmar (Burma), Papua New Guinea, China (Tibet Autonomous Region) and Lao PDR; and is also actively involved in various research and project activities in other Asia and Pacific countries.

With more than 400 staff and students involved in research and public health programs, the Institute is internationally renowned for its expertise in infectious diseases and public health issues that are of major global significance, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis viruses, influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and emerging infectious diseases.

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