Updated
July 30th, 2019

Marburg Virus Vaccine Candidate GEO-EM05 Scores 100%

GeoVax Labs Marburg virus vaccine candidate GEO-EM05 produced 100 percent protection in an animal study

fruit bat on oranges

An Atlanta, Georgia, biotechnology company announced 100 percent protection from preclinical challenge studies of its Marburg virus vaccine candidate, GEO-EM05 (MVA-VLP-MARV).

This is good news since the Marburg virus (MARV) and Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever (Marburg HF) are critical medical threats against which there is currently no available preventive vaccine or treatment.

Marburg HF is caused by the Marburg virus, a genetically unique zoonotic RNA virus.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classify Marburg viruses as Category A pathogens because it poses the highest risk to national security and public health, therefore requiring the highest containment level, which is biosafety level 4.

In this non-human, animal study, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), GeoVax’s Marburg vaccine GEO-EM05 (MVA-VLP-MARV) was administered by intramuscular inoculations to guinea pigs, with a control group receiving saline injections.

At the conclusion of the study, which was 21 days post-challenge, all of the GEO-EM05 vaccinated animals survived, with no weight loss or other health issues.

The GEO-EM05 vaccine candidate is based on the Company’s novel Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) Virus-Like Particle (VLP) platform, which generates noninfectious VLPs in the individual being vaccinated. 

VLPs mimic a natural infection, triggering the body to produce a robust and durable immune response with both antibodies and T cells.

Alexander Bukreyev, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Pathology and Microbiology & Immunology, Galveston National Laboratory at UTMB, commented, “We are very pleased to see the MVA-VLP-MARV vaccine (GEO-EM05) conferred full protection in our guinea pig lethal challenge model.”

Previously, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and others were awarded up to $35 million on April 10th, 2019, to advance the development of rapid-acting vaccines and broad-spectrum treatments of the highly-lethal hemorrhagic fever viruses Ebola and Marburg.

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The Marburg virus was first recognized in 1967 and is a member of the Filoviridae family, which also includes the Ebola virus. An infection with MARV causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans similar to Ebola, says the CDC.

The case-fatality rate for Marburg HF is between 23-90 percent.

MARV can be transmitted to humans by exposure to fruit bats, or it can be transmitted between humans via body fluids.

Marburg cases in the USA are rare, and travel related.

On January 22, 2009, the CDC’s Viral Special Pathogens Branch retrospectively diagnosed a case of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in a U.S. traveler, who was hospitalized, discharged, and fully recovered. 

The CDC later confirmed that the patient’s illness was due to Marburg hemorrhagic fever.

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UTMB is a part of the University of Texas System and a member of the Texas Medical Center. 

UTMB was Texas' first academic health center which opened its doors in 1891 and today has four campuses, four health sciences schools, four institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, a Level 1 Trauma Center and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout the Texas Gulf Coast region.

GeoVax Labs, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer using a novel patented Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) based vaccine platform.