October 21, 2020
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF) and Citranvi Biosciences (Citranvi) have signed an exclusive licensing agreement to develop vaccine technologies to prevent Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV). The research for these technologies was conducted by DoD researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).
Infection with EBV or CMV can lead to significant health complications and their lingering latency can cause viral transmission and reactivation flare-ups. The latent stage is frequently interrupted by reactivation episodes and can lead to severe disease outcomes. Nearly 30% to 40% of adolescents who contract EBV will develop infectious mononucleosis, which can lead to serious complications such as liver failure, splenic rupture, and hematologic disorders.
EBV is also linked with an increased risk for autoimmunity and with nearly 140,000 cancer deaths annually. CMV has a significant maternal-to-infant infection rate (nearly 40%) and is the most common infectious cause of brain damage and sensorineural hearing loss in infants. Despite active monitoring and management with antiviral drugs, CMV infection remains one of the most common complications affecting patient survival among solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients.
“The dangers posed by EBV and CMV are significant. Citranvi is excited to partner with HJF toward the goal of developing vaccines to combat these viruses,” said Dr. Krishna Prasad, Founder of Citranvi Biosciences. Citranvi is led by former vaccine development executives and scientists from top worldwide pharmaceutical companies. The inventions were generated from the laboratory of Drs. Clifford Snapper and Xinle Cui, formerly of the Department of Pathology at USU, in collaboration with Dr. James Mond, formerly of the USU Department of Medicine. This USU invention was patented by HJF under the USU-HJF Joint Office of Technology Transfer.
The technology can be used to produce recombinant proteins expressing important antibody targets, thereby increasing the ability of the vaccines to generate protective antibodies. This result was accomplished by designing recombinant proteins in a multimeric form, thus enhancing their immunogenicity. Using combinations of distinct proteins in a single vaccine has produced synergistic increases in neutralizing antibodies to either EBV or CMV.
“Herpesviruses can impact anyone, even warfighters. Consequently, they pose a risk to force readiness,” said HJF President and CEO, Dr. Joseph Caravalho. “HJF’s mission is to advance military medicine and part of that mandate is ensuring our nation’s warfighters are healthy and able to fulfill their mission. The hope is that this partnership with Citranvi will lead to a new vaccine to fight EBV and CMV, ultimately improving force readiness and benefiting warfighters and civilians alike.”
Research for these technologies was conducted at The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). This research was sponsored by USU; however, the information or content and conclusions do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of, nor should any official endorsement be inferred on the part of, USU, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
The project described was supported by Grant Number 1R21AI073627 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease or the National Institutes of Health.
Citranvi Biosciences LLC is a pre-clinical stage company based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina developing novel, rapidly deployable and cost-effective vaccine platforms, broadly applicable to target a variety of bacterial and viral infections. Besides in-licensing vaccine technologies with high potential, Citranvi Biosciences is developing adjuvanted nanoparticle platforms, specifically to stimulate mucosal immunity to target viral and bacterial pathogens, including those responsible for current and potentially future pandemic diseases such as COVID-19.
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF) is a global nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Maryland. For more than 35 years, HJF has partnered with military medical researchers and clinicians to advance military medicine. With a team of more than 3,000 professionals, HJF serves as a trusted and responsive partner by providing scientific, administrative and program operations services to investigators, clinicians, and global health professionals in the military, academic, and private sector. For more information, visit hjf.org.