The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Aeras, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing tuberculosis (TB) vaccines, today announced the transfer to IAVI of Aeras’ TB vaccine clinical research programs and assets, consisting of certain clinical staff, clinical programs, biorepository, funding commitments, and other assets.
The transaction, effective today, will enable the continuity of Aeras’ core TB vaccine clinical programs and will expand IAVI’s clinical development capabilities and network, incorporating an experienced clinical team and South African clinical partner network with a strong track record in later-stage clinical trials and work with adolescent and adult populations.
This agreement comes as the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the results of a clinical study conducted by Aeras in collaboration with GSK, evaluating GSK’s investigational TB vaccine candidate, M72/AS01. The Phase IIb efficacy study showed that the vaccine protected against active pulmonary TB disease, with an overall vaccine efficacy of 54 percent. This finding, if confirmed in follow-up studies, would represent a breakthrough in the decades-long quest to develop an effective TB vaccine. The study involved 3,573 HIV-negative adults in three countries in Africa (Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia).
These results follow another Aeras Phase II study recently published in the NEJM showing the potential to prevent sustained TB infection among high-risk adolescents. The study involved the currently available bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine and an experimental subunit vaccine candidate, H4:IC31®, which uses the IC31® adjuvant available under license from Valneva. The study was conducted through a partnership between Aeras and Sanofi.
Mark Feinberg, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO, IAVI, said, “Aeras’ contributions to these two important studies have built excitement in the field, demonstrating that an effective TB vaccine may be achievable. The transfer of Aeras research capabilities to IAVI will enable this important work to continue.” Dr. Feinberg continued, “There is extensive overlap among individuals and communities hit hardest by TB and HIV/AIDS; TB is the single biggest killer of people living with HIV, and, in some parts of the world, the HIV pandemic has fueled the spread of TB. The expertise of the Aeras clinical operations team and South African network will enable IAVI to strengthen its clinical development capacity and enhance its ability to address HIV, TB, and other important global health challenges. We are looking forward to working with public and private sector partners to develop new technologies and programs to help control the TB pandemic.”
Jacqueline Shea, Ph.D., CEO, Aeras, said, “Aeras is proud of the contribution it has made to the field of TB vaccine research and development and the role that it has played in two recent groundbreaking clinical efficacy trials. For more than two decades, Aeras has formed partnerships with commercial biopharmaceutical companies, other nonprofits, researchers, funders, and global health experts in its mission to advance TB vaccines for the world. We believe that the time is right to join the expertise within Aeras and IAVI to build on the recent findings and accelerate progress toward new, more effective TB vaccines. We believe such progress will also require additional partnerships among like-minded and committed organizations.”
Eric Goosby, M.D., U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Tuberculosis and board chair, IAVI, said, “Following the first-ever United Nations high-level meeting on TB, it is important to emphasize that a vaccine is necessary to achieve control over TB on a global level. Without vaccines to both prevent and treat the disease, the pandemic will continue. These recent studies bring us one step closer to a solution.”