Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. Announces Selection of the First of Two Sets of Virus Targeting Peptides for Animal Testing in the Development of a COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Candidate selected to initiate testing of HaloVax™, a Self-Assembling Vaccine to protect people at risk of COVID-19 infection

NEW YORK, April 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. announced today that it has selected the peptides required to complete the structure of HaloVax for development and progression into pre-clinical animal testing of the HaloVax Self-Assembling Vaccine (SAV). Voltron will take two different vaccines, with differing sets of targets into pre-clinical testing, in order to identify the best balance of immune responses for prevention of infection. This vaccine is designed to protect patients at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Initiation of the first animal study for the vaccine candidates is expected to begin in May 2020.

The vaccine candidates are built on a base of a heat shock protein (HSP70) that activates the cellular portion of the immune system; this is different from most other vaccine efforts, which used adjuvants like alum. The second portion of the vaccine consists of peptides from the COVID-19 virus, which are bound at high affinity to the heat shock protein via Avidin and Biotin. The selected immunogenic peptides complete the customized COVID-19 vaccine.

“The bacterial heat shock protein portion of the vaccine is extremely potent at presenting vaccine antigens to immune cells, resulting in both antibody and cell-mediated immunity. The Avidin portion of the vaccine we designed enables rapid iteration and change in the antigen to enable swift production and accommodate potential changes in the pathogen, or new evolving pathogens,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand, coinventor of the vaccine.

The vaccine is currently in development in partnership with HaloVax, LLC a biopharmaceutical company and special purpose subsidiary of Voltron Therapeutics, Inc., and Hoth Therapeutics, Inc (NASDAQ: HOTH). The partnership was established to advance an application of VaxCelerate, the SAV platform licensed from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) specifically for the rapid development of vaccines against emerging pathogens and specific types of cancer, in this case COVID-19. The VaxCelerate platform was developed to improve patient outcomes by activating and targeting the immune system to identify and destroy the infectious agent. Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. has acquired an exclusive worldwide license to this technology.

The selection of the first of two sets of testing candidates builds on the recent announcement of a Sponsored Research Agreement which Voltron Therapeutics entered into with the VIC at MGH. Voltron Therapeutics and VIC at MGH have a longstanding relationship for the development of vaccines to fight infectious diseases and cancer.

“Our accelerated development program to deliver a safe and effective vaccine that can protect people from this terrible virus as quickly as possible is now one step closer to reaching clinical trials. We are very pleased to have identified the first of our two lead vaccine candidates from the constructs that we’ve been working on since March,” said Pat Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer, Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. “We are optimistic about the continued success of our partnership with the VIC and all of our partners and subsidiaries that we are closing in on a new solution to help protect those potentially affected by COVID-19.”

Robb Knie, Chief Executive Officer, Hoth Therapeutics, Inc, continued, “The hard work of the Joint Development Committee of Hoth, Voltron and the VIC at Mass General  is making tremendous strides in a short time period to bring the HaloVax Self Assembling Vaccine closer to the clinic. I am appreciative of Dr. Poznansky and his team as they take the next steps in this most important program.”

Dr. Mark Poznansky, Director, Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, MGH added, “The selection of candidates for animal testing is a critical step forward to reaching human clinical trials. Ultimately, taking two candidates forward, with differing expected effects on the immune system, expands the breadth of our study, which we think increases the probability that a successful vaccine emerges from our preclinical trials. The new potential candidate is designed to facilitate a productive immune response while minimizing mechanisms known to induce adverse reactions to a vaccine or even potentially enhance the negative effects of COVID-19 infection. This has been an extraordinary effort by the exceptional team at the VIC/Massachusetts General Hospital, Voltron and Hoth.”

About Voltron Therapeutics, Inc.
Voltron Therapeutics, Inc., a Delaware corporation, was founded in 2017 to lead and accelerate the development of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC), and the Massachusetts General Hospital’s novel Self Assembling Vaccine technology in a variety of indications, including in Oncology and emerging Infectious Diseases. Voltron holds an exclusive worldwide license to this technology. With the work of our world class team of researchers and physicians, this technology has shown in certain pre-clinical studies initial proof of concept in two infectious diseases (Lassa Fever and Q Fever) as well as two oncology indications (Ovarian and HPV Related). For more information please visit www.voltrontx.com.

About HaloVax™, LLC
HaloVax, LLC is a special purpose subsidiary of Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. The mission of HaloVax is to develop a novel, Self-Assembling Vaccine against COVID-19, utilizing technology licensed by Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  The vaccine is being designed from a validated platform to provide customized T cell immunity against COVID-19, as well as be able to adapt rapidly to potential genetic drift of the virus.  For more information, please visit www.HaloVax.com.

About Hoth Therapeutics, Inc.
Hoth Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new generation therapies for dermatological disorders. Hoth’s pipeline has the potential to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from indications including atopic dermatitis, chronic wounds, psoriasis, asthma, and acne. To learn more, please visit www.hoththerapeutics.com.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements that relate to the advancement and development of the VaxCelerate Platform, the commencement of clinical trials, the availability of data from clinical trials and other information that is not historical information. When used herein, words such as “anticipate”, “being”, “will”, “plan”, “may”, “continue”, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements or information that refer to expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, performance or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking. All forward-looking statements are based upon Voltron’s current expectations and various assumptions. Voltron believes there is a reasonable basis for its expectations and beliefs, but they are inherently uncertain. Voltron may not realize its expectations, and its beliefs may not prove correct. Actual results could differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, without limitation, market conditions and any Voltron filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Consequently, forward-looking statements should be regarded solely as Voltron’s current plans, estimates and beliefs. Investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Voltron cannot guarantee future results, events, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Voltron does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to update, republish, or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrences of unanticipated events, except as may be required by law.

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SOURCE Voltron Therapeutics