A Bay Area medical-biotech startup has acquired the newest and most successful research to date on HIV vaccines and cures from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
OHSU’s latest efforts towards a cure and vaccine for the deadly virus stemmed from TomegaVax Inc., a biotechnology company who has the rights to a drug made from an inoculation of the most common strain of herpes simplex. It’s been tested on primates with HIV, and was proven to successfully cure almost 60% of the animals affected.
It is different from other vaccines because it uses viruses already present to induce a strong immune response. Even more remarkably, the scientists that created the vaccine believe that it can both cure and treat additional illnesses including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, malaria and HPV.
For Bay Area biotech company Vir, founded earlier this month, the technology transfer will mark an important step in the commercialization of powerful new antivirals. Additionally, when OHSU becomes a shareholder with Vir they will receive royalties and other payments to support additional research on the new drug.
OHSU scholars plan to begin testing the medication on humans next year. Once the vaccine is proven safe, Vir will work with OHSU scientists to determine success in the HIV-affected population. It will take several years, millions of dollars and miles of red tape to get TomegaVax approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but the prospect of finally curing HIV patients in the United States – and maybe around the world – makes it worth the wait.
By Kiki Genoa