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MVA Technology Overview



GeoVax’s vaccines are constructed to induce broader immunity through inclusion of multiple antigens into a single virus/vaccine platform. This is possible through the use of the company’s MVA vaccine platform, a large virus capable of incorporating multiple antigens into a vaccine platform.

Utilizing MVA, as a vaccine vector, allows for the targeting of multiple sites on a pathogen or cancer cell. Doing this is intended to result in a more robust and durable protective immune response. In addition, using MVA as a vaccine platform allows for the construction of vaccines which are capable of generating virus-like particles (VLPs) in the person receiving the vaccine.

The production of VLPs in the person being vaccinated is intended to mimic viral production that occurs in a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral (antibody) and cellular (T-cell) arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control future infections.

MVA vectored vaccines can elicit durable (long-acting) immune responses while also possessing an excellent safety profile. MVA-VLP vaccines are designed to mimic authentic viruses in form but are not infectious or capable of replicating. As a result, VLPs can cause the body’s immune system to recognize and kill targeted infectious agents to prevent an infection or can be designed to target cancerous cells resulting in inhibited growth or destruction of tumors. VLPs can also train the immune system to recognize and kill virus-infected cells to control infection and reduce the length and severity of disease.

One of the biggest challenges with developing traditional VLP-based vaccines is the manufacture and collection of the VLPs utilizing traditional manufacturing equipment. In contrast, by utilizing the GeoVax approach, designing the vaccine to produce VLPs in the body of the vaccinated individual, many of the manufacturing challenges, issues, and costs are avoided.

We design our MVA-VLP vaccines such that, when VLPs for viruses like Ebola or Marburg are produced in vivo (in the cells of the recipient), they present the viral protein antigens to the host cells in a manner similar to those of a natural infection.

MVA, as a vaccine, was developed in the 1950s/1960s as a safer smallpox vaccine for use in immune-compromised individuals. The safety and utility of MVA as a vaccine and as a vaccine platform are well documented and recognized by public health authorities worldwide.

GeoVax obtained rights from the U.S. NIH to develop MVA as a vaccine for smallpox and Mpox (GEO-MVA), as well as also having rights from the NIH to use MVA as a vaccine vector. GeoVax also holds exclusive rights to use the City of Hope Medical Center's synthetic MVA (sMVA) platform for the manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines including GEO-CM04S1, our multi-antigenic COVID-19 vaccine currently in multiple Phase 2 studies.

In summary, the GeoVax MVA vaccine platform affords several benefits and advantages:

  • Safety Safety for MVA has been demonstrated as a smallpox vaccine in more than 120,000 subjects, including immunocompromised individuals. In human clinical trials, our HIV vaccine candidate has demonstrated outstanding safety.
  • Durability:  Our technology can promote highly durable (long-lasting) vaccine responses, lasting up to one year.
  • Limited pre-existing immunity to vector:  Pre-existing immunity is a condition where a vaccinated patient’s response is muted due to prior exposure to a virus. The risk of pre-existing immunity to MVA is considered low as MVA vaccines against smallpox ended in most countries in the mid-1970s following the successful worldwide eradication of smallpox.
  • Ability to generate VLPs in the patient:  Non-infectious VLPs can more closely mimic natural infections resulting in activation of both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system.
  • Protection against Mpox and smallpox:  MVA vectored vaccines have been shown to maintain the inherent activity of MVA against Mpox and smallpox.
  • Long-term product stability:  MVA formats provide more than 6 years of storage.
  • Distribution advantages:  MVA does not require ultra-cold storage conditions and can be lyophilized (freeze-dried) which can simplify vaccine product distribution and administration. 
Advanced High-Capacity Manufacturing of MVA-based Vaccines

GeoVax is transitioning to an advanced MVA manufacturing process intending to significantly increase the manufacturing yield and volume capacity in response to potential epidemic and pandemic needs. The advanced MVA manufacturing utilizes a patented, proprietary continuous avian cell line system (AGE.1) for manufacturing MVA-based vaccines and immunotherapies.

Currently, MVA vaccines are manufactured in cells cultured from chicken embryonic fibroblasts (CEF), a suboptimal and time-consuming process useful primarily for niche markets and stockpile reserves. Transitioning to the AGE.1-based system is anticipated to provide lower-cost, scalable versatility for broad MVA vaccine and immunotherapy applications. In addition, the advanced MVA manufacturing process is intended to expand MVA-based vaccine production from stockpile-based solutions for niche medical markets to include the ability to respond to world needs on a timely basis, whenever and wherever they arise. GeoVax believes it will be the first supplier of MVA-based vaccines to implement such a transformative manufacturing process and intends to become the first U.S.-based supplier of the MVA vaccine to prevent Mpox, smallpox and other pox-related viruses. The initial candidates for the advanced manufacturing process include GEO-MVA (addressing Mpox and smallpox) and GEO-CM04S1 (COVID-19 vaccine).

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