Targeted Genetics said Monday that a federal grant will allow it to broaden its search for an AIDS vaccine to include strains found in the...
Targeted Genetics said Monday that a federal grant will allow it to broaden its search for an AIDS vaccine to include strains found in the developed world.
Previously, the Seattle company and its partners had focused on a subtype of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, the region hit hardest by AIDS. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
With funding from the National Institutes of Health, Targeted Genetics will be able to accelerate development of its vaccine candidate on both fronts in parallel, said Barrie Carter, executive vice president and chief scientific officer. “We’re going to get much more information much more quickly,” he said.
The company can receive up to $18 million over five years as a subcontractor on the $22 million grant. It will collaborate with researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Columbus (Ohio) Children’s Research Institute, and likely conduct clinical trials in North America. Targeted currently has trials running in Europe, India and South Africa with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
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Developing an HIV vaccine is “difficult, but incredibly important,” Carter said.
Some 40 million people around the world are infected and 3 million die from AIDS complications annually.
Carter said the NIH funding is a validation of Targeted Genetics’ technology, under development for more than 13 years. Targeted Genetics uses a harmless virus as a delivery system to insert certain HIV genes into the body to generate an immune system response to HIV.
Targeted Genetics is a world leader in this technology, but it has seen scant success thus far, said David Miller, president of Biotech Monthly. Investors need to be shown evidence that it works, said Miller, who owns shares in the company. “Now they have access to $18 million more to show me than they did yesterday,” he said.
The company’s stock jumped 16 cents, or 33 percent, to close Monday at 64 cents.