ATLANTA, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: GOVX) (the "Company"), an Atlanta-based, biopharmaceutical company developing human vaccines for diseases caused by HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and other infectious agents, today announced its support for World AIDS Day.
"Today is the 21st World AIDS Day and as we remember the millions that have lost their fight with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we remain focused and devoted to commercializing both preventative and therapeutic vaccines. We have been encouraged by the progress of our peers and believe we are on the right track to help current and potential HIV/AIDS sufferers lead improved lives." said Robert McNally, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer.
He added, "Just this month, U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-Atlanta) sponsored a congressional resolution encouraging the House of Representatives to continue investment in the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine for the United States. This resolution is a big step in the right direction for companies such as GeoVax, who are working on HIV/AIDS vaccines targeted for the developed, not just the developing world."
"Additionally, we are grateful for the support of Chuck Panozzo, founder of the internationally acclaimed rock band Styx, who has joined the GeoVax Labs awareness campaign as an advocate of the Company's promising HIV/AIDS vaccine. Chuck is conducting multiple interviews at this week's World AIDS Day event in Washington, D.C., sharing his passion towards finding a vaccine and motivating others afflicted with the disease to take control of their lives, even though each day is a struggle."
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. is increasing. Dr. McNally stated, "Much of the world's attention has gone to the third world and there is a misconception that in the U.S. HIV/AIDS is not a problem. The advent of oral medication has given life extensions, but with a tremendous financial burden not only for the patient but the US healthcare system which spends over $13,000,000,000 annually on HIV/AIDS. The public believes the virus is under control but the fact is that the virus prevalence is still increasing, especially in the Southeast."
GeoVax's preventative vaccine is currently in Phase 2a human trials, which began in February 2009. The trial is only the fifth Phase 2a trial to be conducted by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which has conducted more than eighty Phase 1 trials. The first injections took place at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The Phase 2a human trials will include a total of 225 volunteers, 150 of whom will receive the actual vaccine while the others receive placebo injections. There are 13 participating sites, 11 of which are in North America and two of which are in Peru.
GeoVax is currently in the process of submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the initial testing of the therapeutic use of its vaccine. If the FDA has no objections, the Company plans to start Phase I therapeutic clinical trials during the first quarter of 2010. The initial trial will be conducted in Atlanta and enroll individuals who began successful antiretroviral therapy within one year of documented infection. The simian prototype of the GeoVax vaccine has had excellent success in controlling established infections in the non human primate model.
Dr. McNally concluded, "Our HIV/AIDS vaccines are designed to elicit protective antibody and protective T cells. For the preventative application of our vaccine, the purpose of the antibody is to block virus before it infects cells and the goal for the T cells is to recognize and kill cells infected by virus that escaped the antibody. For the therapeutic application, the T cells will likely play the major role in protection because of their ability to kill (eliminate) already infected cells."
About World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day is recognized each year on December 1. It is a time to honor those who have been lost to AIDS. It is a reminder that we must do more to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS individually and as a community.
The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is "Universal Access and Human Rights." The fight against HIV/AIDS has come a long way since the early 1980's when the disease was believed to be one that only homosexuals carried. Fast-forward to today where there is an entire day dedicated to promoting awareness, improving education and fighting the prejudice related to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
President Obama recently signed the Ryan White Care Act, which places a new emphasis on testing and calls for 5 Million HIV tests annually. Ryan White was an Indiana teenage hemophiliac who became infected with HIV after receiving a contaminated blood treatment. The President also lifted the 22-year ban on travel to the U.S. by persons infected with HIV or those living with AIDS.
Find out more about World AIDS Day at www.worldaidsday.org.
About Chuck Panozzo
Chuck Panozzo (born Charles Salvatore Panozzo, on September 20, 1948, in Chicago) is a bass player. A longtime member of the rock band Styx, he founded the group with his fraternal twin brother, drummer John Panozzo. They recorded such hit singles as "Lady," "Come Sail Away," "Babe," "The Best of Times," "Too Much Time on My Hands" and "Mr. Roboto." Chuck Panozzo continues to tour with Styx on a regular basis.
In 2001, Panozzo announced he was gay and living with HIV, and has been involved in campaigning for AIDS awareness and gay rights. The following year he released his autobiography The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life with Styx.
AIDS is an epidemic that can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation. 33 million people are currently infected globally and it is estimated that there will be 2.5 million new infections this year. Since the beginning of the epidemic, over a million people in the U.S. have contracted the virus. Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the US is infected with AIDS. Globally, HIV is the top killer among women of reproductive age.
HIV is a worldwide disease with different subtypes (or clades) of the virus predominating in different regions of the world. Clade B is the predominant subtype in North America. Globally, most infections involve subtypes AG, B, and C. In 2008, antiretroviral treatment in low and middle income countries was restricted to about 3 million people. In the United States, about 50% of those who are infected are estimated to be on drug treatment.
About GeoVax Labs, Inc.
GeoVax Labs, Inc. is a biotechnology company, established to develop, manufacture, license and commercialize human vaccines for diseases caused by HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and other infectious agents. GeoVax's AIDS vaccine technology is the subject of 20 issued or filed patent applications. GeoVax AIDS vaccines are designed for use in uninfected people to prevent acquisition of HIV-1 and limit the progression to AIDS should a person become infected GeoVax AIDS vaccines also may be effective as a therapeutic treatment (for people already infected with the HIV-1 virus).
GeoVax's core AIDS vaccine technologies were developed by Dr. Harriet Robinson, Chief Scientific Officer, through a collaboration of colleagues at Emory University's Vaccine Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and GeoVax.
GeoVax's AIDS vaccines have moved forward in human clinical trials conducted by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) based in Seattle, Washington. The HVTN, funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the largest worldwide clinical trials program dedicated to the development and testing of AIDS vaccines. Preclinical work enabling evaluation of GeoVax DNA and MVA vaccines was funded and supported by NIAID, which provided additional support to GeoVax AIDS vaccine development program with a $18 million IPCAVD grant awarded in late 2007.
Safe Harbor Statement
All statements in this news release, not statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on expectations and assumptions on the date of this press release and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, whether: GeoVax can develop and manufacture these vaccines with the desired characteristics in a timely manner, GeoVax's vaccines will be safe for human use, GeoVax's vaccines will effectively prevent AIDS in humans, vaccines will receive regulatory approvals necessary to be licensed and marketed, GeoVax raises required capital to complete vaccine development, there is development of competitive products that may be more effective or easier to use than GeoVax's products, and other factors over which GeoVax has no control. GeoVax assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, and does not intend to do so. Certain matters discussed in this news release are forward-looking statements involving certain risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, risks detailed in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings and reports.
SOURCE GeoVax Labs, Inc.
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