Janssen Pharmaceuticals announced a collaboration and license agreement with Bavarian Nordic to leverage their MVA-BN® technology, jointly with Janssen’s own AdVac® technology, in the development and commercialization of a heterologous prime-boost vaccine for the treatment of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) chronic infections which can lead to cancer. Hopefully the partnership with mean a new approach for early treatment and interception of HPV-induced cancers.
What is HPV?
With over 300 million estimated infections among men and women annually, HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease in the world. HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each HPV virus in this large group is given a number which is called its HPV type. HPV is named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause. Some other HPV types can lead to cancer, especially cervical cancer. There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. But there are vaccines that can prevent infection with the most common types of HPV.
HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. You can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected, making it hard to know when you first became infected.
HPV-related cancers, which occur when a chronic infection of some HPV types cause changes to infected cells, are responsible for over 650 thousand cases globally each year. HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer and certain types of head and neck cancer, in addition to several rare cancers.
Partnership leverages both company’s skills
Under this agreement, Janssen will conduct all clinical development and, subject to regulatory approval, will be responsible for registration, distribution and commercialization of the potential combination vaccine worldwide. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
Despite a recent focus on the prevention of infection for certain HPV types, a large population remains at risk of HPV-related cancers. Janssen will leverage the prime-boost approach, similar to that used in its Ebola vaccine regimen which is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials. This approach has shown to induce a strong and longer-lasting immune response, demonstrated by both increased antibodies and T cell responses. The goal is to develop a therapeutic vaccine which aims to intercept HPV infection-related disease, particularly in women and men who are diagnosed with HPV early, by enhancing the ability of the immune system to treat chronic infections and prevent progression to cancer.
“HPV carries a significant disease burden, which can be addressed by intercepting disease progression and treating the viral infection,” says Johan Van Hoof, M.D., Global Head, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Janssen. “We are bringing together our technology with that of Bavarian Nordic to develop a potentially first-in-class HPV vaccine which could advance human health by reducing the number of new cancer cases and associated deaths.”
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