Another Epstein-Barr virus Vaccine Candidate Announced
ModeX Therapeutics, Inc. recently announced it entered into an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement with Merck to develop MDX-2201, a preclinical nanoparticle vaccine candidate targeting Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Under the terms of the agreement, ModeX and Merck will jointly advance MDX-2201 to a U.S. FDA Investigational New Drug application filing, after which Merck will be responsible for clinical and regulatory activities and product commercialization.
MDX-2201 is based on ModeX’s ferritin nanoparticle vaccine platform, which can express as many as 24 copies of a recombinant antigen on its surface to enhance the presentation of key virus components and stimulate durable protective immunity.
MDX-2201 presents antigens from four viral proteins involved in viral entry into host cells.
These include a recombinant antigen designed from the proteins gH, gL, and gp42 and an antigen derived from gp350.
By using ModeX’s multi-targeted approach, this combination inhibits infection in two cell types, B cells and epithelial cells, contrasting with efforts previously focused on gp350 alone.
“At Merck, we have a proud legacy of developing vaccines, including several that have the potential to help protect against certain types of cancer,” said Tarit Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., Vice President, Infectious Diseases and Vaccine Discovery, Merck Research Laboratories, in a press release on March 8, 2023.
EBV is a member of the herpes virus family and is one of the most common human viruses.
EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis and is associated with other illnesses, including specific types of cancer and multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved vaccines or treatments for EBV infection.
However, Moderna Inc. has been conducting a phase 1 clinical study for its mRNA-1189 vaccine candidate.
The viral proteins in mRNA-1189 are expressed in their native membrane-bound form for recognition by the immune system.