Epstein-Barr virus: First details on possible vaccine presented

An estimated 90 percent of the world's population is infected with EBV.

A whole range of diseases can be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus - EBV for short: various types of cancer are among them, immune diseases, multiple sclerosis or infectious mononucleosis, also known as glandular fever, which is a risk factor for multiple sclerosis. The start-up EBViously presented its EBV vaccine candidate at the World Vaccine Congress 2023 in the USA in April. The company is a spin-off of Helmholtz Zentrum München. The project leading to the spin-off was co-funded by the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF). Clinical testing of the vaccine candidate is scheduled to start in 2024.

Epstein-Barr virus is one of the nine known herpesviruses and one of the most common viruses found in humans. It is estimated that approximately 90% of the world´s population is infected with EBV. Infections typically occur in early childhood and are usually asymptomatic. However, when infections occur later in life, they frequently cause infectious mononucleosis (“glandular fever”) and other serious complications. The virus is also associated with certain cancers – approximately 200,000 cancer cases worldwide, including several types of lymphoma, are attributed to EBV. In addition, EBV infection is by far the most important risk factor for multiple sclerosis.

In Washington, DC, EBViously announced the first details of its vaccine candidate, called EBV-001. The vaccine could be used to prevent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced diseases in the future.

The vaccine is based on non-infectious EBV-derived virus-like particles (VLPs) that mimic the original viral pathogen and its complexity.

VLPs resemble actual virus particles, but do not contain any viral genetic material. With the authentic structure of the virus, these empty shells signal an EBV infection to the immune system and elicit a highly specific immune response from both the humoral and the cellular parts of the immune system.

“Based on our very favorable preclinical proof-of-concept data regarding the immunogenicity of the vaccine, we are confident that EBV-001 can effectively prevent the development of infectious mononucleosis and the often associated chronic fatigue syndrome,” says Axel Polack, M.D., designated CEO of EBViously. “A GMP process has been established by a commercial CMO and our goal is to begin clinical trials in 2024.”

“As a primary indication, we are targeting the prevention of infectious mononucleosis, also known as kissing disease or glandular fever, and post-infectious fatigue/chronic fatigue (ME/CFS), a common, long-COVID-like protracted disease following infectious mononucleosis,” says Prof. Wolfgang Hammerschmidt, designated CSO of EBViously. “Other potential indications include the prevention of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) and EBV-associated cancers. As infectious mononucleosis is a known risk factor for multiple sclerosis, there is great hope that our vaccine may also reduce the incidence of this chronic neurodegenerative autoimmune disease.”


Source: DZIF

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