Admedus (ASX:AHZ) has demonstrated its confidence in Professor Ian Frazer’s Admedus Vaccines, a developer of therapeutic vaccines, by increasing its stake to 66.3% from 50.1%.
The company had earlier this year received positive interim results for the therapeutic vaccine for Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-2) Phase I study and is scheduled to release additional data this quarter once confirmatory assays are completed.
Admedus Vaccines is also continuing the pre-clinical work on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) therapeutic vaccines.
The Phase I study provides a level of validation to the technology which can be applied to a number of viral, bacterial and oncological targets.
In addition, it is well funded for the planned Phase II HSV-2 study to be initiated by the end of this year having raised in the last couple of months $18.4 million through an oversubscribed share purchase plan and placement.
Admedus chief executive officer Lee Rodne said the increased stake was in-keeping with the company’s planned use of funds from the recent capital raising and reflects the ongoing positive progress being made by the therapeutic vaccines development team.
The therapeutic vaccine was developed by Professor Frazer – one of Australia’s leading cancer scientists – and his science team at Admedus Vaccines (formerly Coridon) to treat HSV-2 by stimulating the immune response to enable a patient to fight against diseases.
“The progress being made by Professor Frazer and the team is extremely positive and adds to the growth potential of Admedus,” Rodne added.
“We are dedicated to the continued development of these programs as they have the potential to provide a therapy for millions of people affected by a range of diseases.”
Interim data from the Phase 1 study for the HSV-2 therapeutic vaccine had proved that it was safe for use in study subjects.
In addition, the study has also shown that the vaccine was able to generate a T-cell response, an early indicator of an effective immune response.
The trial was undertaken by Professor Frazer and his team in Brisbane on five cohorts with four participants in each cohort. Dosing of the study subjects was completed in December 2013.
Each participant received three doses via intradermal injection during the study, which is focused primarily on safety.
All participants were screened to exclude previous exposure to Herpes simplex virus 1 (cold sores) or HSV-2 (genital herpes on the rationale that they would have no antibodies or T cells targeting the virus.
HSV-2 genital herpes
Genital herpes affects more than 1 in 6 Americans between ages 14 and 49 according to the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.
WHO estimates the number of people aged 15–49 years who are living with HSV-2 worldwide exceeds half a billion.
Most individuals infected with HSV-2 experience either no symptoms or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed or are mistaken for another skin condition and as a result are often unaware of their infection until an outbreak occurs.
Notably, while antiviral drugs can reduce the effects of the virus, there is currently no cure for HSV-2.
This has resulted in an economic burden in the U.S. alone of $1 billion according to research reported in Biomed Central’s journal BMC Infectious Disease.
Admedus’ move to increase its stake in Admedus Vaccine to 66.3% could prove to be a significant one given past successes and also probability of upcoming vaccines becoming commercial.
The effect on future revenues from their roll-out for Admedus in the medium to long term would very likely be material.
This is also backed by Professor Ian Frazer whose work linking the human papilloma virus (HPV) and cervical cancer to create a world-first vaccine was outstanding. Success with HSV-2 could very well lead to vaccinations for HIV or Hepatitis C.
With a high infection rate and no current cure for HSV-2, proving the vaccines ability to both protect and treat the virus opens up a massive market that has not being previously tapped.
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