LEXINGTON, Mass., Nov. 4, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Antigenics Inc. (Nasdaq:AGEN) today announced that it has been awarded $424,720 in grants under the IRS' Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project (QTDP) program. The grants were awarded in recognition of our two qualifying programs: AG-707, a phase 1 therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of genital herpes and QS-21 Stimulon® adjuvant. The QTDP program was established as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Under the program, projects were selected by the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. In order to qualify, projects had to incur preclinical or clinical research costs during 2009 or 2010 and be designed to result in one or more new therapies to treat or prevent a disease or condition representing an unmet medical need, reduce long-term health care costs in the U.S. and demonstrate the potential to enhance U.S. competitiveness and create high quality jobs in the U.S.
AG-707 is an off-the-shelf therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of genital herpes, which is caused by the herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2). The vaccine is based on Antigenics' heat shock protein (HSP) platform technology. In a four-arm, phase 1 study (n=35), all patients who were evaluable for immune response and received AG-707 with QS-21 showed a statistically significant CD4+ T cell response (100%; 7/7) to HSV-2 antigens, and the majority of those patients demonstrated a CD8+ T cell response (63%; 5/8). Eliciting both of these types of immune responses is a first-of-its-kind achievement in herpes therapy.While the initial focus of development has been in HSV-2, this HSP technology platform can potentially be utilized for off-the-shelf treatment of many types of infectious diseases such as HPV, HIV, hepatitis, malaria and tuberculosis. AG-707 consists of recombinant human heat shock protein-70 complexed with 32 distinct 35-mer synthetic peptides from the HSV-2 proteome. This broad spectrum of herpes antigens is intended to allow for more accurate immune targeting and surveillance, reducing the likelihood of immune escape. Further, the diversity of antigens in AG-707 increases the chance of providing efficacy for a wide segment of the patient population.