HCVAX

Novel vaccines against Hepatitis C using nanotechnology

Anti-viral treatments against hepatitis C virus (HCV) suffer from many disadvantages, and infections usually become chronic. While an efficient anti-HCV vaccine would help alleviate the problems of this disease, such a vaccine does not yet exist. Thus, the goal of the HCVAX consortium, which is funded by the EuroNanoMed Joint Transnational Initiative of the European Union is to develop such a vaccine. 

The HCVAX vaccines are generated from innovative, biocompatible nanogels carrying RNA-replicon vaccines. The latter are modified swine fever virus genomes - incapable of infecting human cells as a biosafety measure – encoding HCV antigens, yet unable to generate infectious virus. For focused vaccine delivery, the nanogel carrier is designed to target and introduce the RNA replicon cargo into dendritic cells, the pivotal cells for inducing efficient immune responses. Further, innovative adjuvants will be screened for increasing the efficacy of these vaccines. Briefly, we will test adjuvants emerging from our pipeline in combination with the nanogels and replicons for their capacity to direct the Nanogel carrier to dendritic cells and to modify and optimize the elicited immune responses as needed for  effective vaccination against HCV.

Promising formulations will be identified through in vitro screening assays, and evaluated pre-clinically in vivo, to prioritize them for clinical development.

Groups

Coordinator

Dr Kenneth C. McCullough, Institute of Virology and Immunoprophylaxis Mittelhäusern, Switzerland

Funding Agency

BMBF - Federal Ministry of Education and Research