Allied Healthcare Group's (ASX: AHZ) investment company Coridon has gained A$200,000 in funding over the next two years to expand the scope of pre-clinical trials of a novel DNA vaccine for the prevention and treatment of human papilloma virus.
Professor Ian Frazer, and his team at the University of Queensland, has received the funding from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world and is the causing virus in around 5% of all cancer cases worldwide, particularly cervical cancer in women.
The commercial market for such a vaccine, if successful, is assessed at over $1.3 billion per annum, as it would be used to treat women with persistent cervical HPV infection.
Earlier work by Professor Frazer led to the development of the two currently available prophylactic vaccines, Gardasil® and Cervarix®, which are highly effective at stopping women not yet exposed to HPV from contracting the sexually transmitted infection.
A commercially available therapeutic HPV vaccine that would stop uninfected women from contracting HPV and also provide a therapeutic benefit to those already infected will have immense benefits to cervical cancer sufferers globally.
This condition affects about 2% of women during their lifetime, and currently requires lifetime follow up to prevent development of cervical cancer, but has no available therapy.
Gardasil® and Cervaix® are ineffective in preventing development of HPV-associated pre-malignancy if administered to people already infected with HPV.
Pre-clinical results released earlier this year by Allied, show the novel HPV vaccine successfully induces an immune response that can protect mice from developing cancer tumours associated with HPV infection.
Lee Rodne, managing director of Allied Healthcare Group, commented: "We welcome this contribution from the NHMRC which recognizes the important work being undertaken by Professor Frazer and his team at the University of Queensland.
"This novel HPV vaccine promises to be another major step forward in efforts to reduce the global burden of HPV-related disease, and the fight against cervical cancer."
Large target market
Among HPV-associated cancers, cervical cancer is the second largest cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide and is primarily caused by HPV infection, with HPV DNA present in 99.7% of all cervical cancers.
Globally, this equates to 529,000 new cases per year, and about 275,000 deaths, with 86% of cases being in developing countries.
In the U.S., it is estimated that 26.8% of 14 to 59 year old females (around 20 million) are currently infected with HPV and another 6 million people become newly infected each year.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health stated that in 2009 there were 11,270 new cases and 4,070 deaths from cervical cancer in the U.S.
It is estimated that around $1.425 billion is spent in the U.S. each year to treat cervical cancers.
Allied currently holds a 44.4% stake in Coridon, with plans to continue to increase its interest.
The company has exclusivity to increase to a 55% interest and then first right of refusal post-55% in Coridon's vaccine programs.
Allied retains the ability to invest further in Coridon on the same terms established with the initial investment by Allied into Coridon in 2009.
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