SAN DIEGO, Feb. 16, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Vical Incorporated (Nasdaq:VICL) announced today the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 7,888,112 covering DNA vaccines for cytomegalovirus (CMV) containing specific gene sequences and formulated with Vical's Vaxfectin ® adjuvant. Past development by others of protein-based prophylactic CMV vaccines has focused on antibody-mediated immune responses against the CMV glycoprotein B (gB) antigen, which has achieved up to 50% protective efficacy. The new '112 patent covers DNA vaccines containing codon-optimized versions of genes encoding gB and CMV phosphoprotein 65 (pp65) antigens, formulated with Vical's Vaxfectin ® adjuvant. It adds to Vical's family of patents in the United States and other key regions based on the company's discovery that administering genetic sequences such as DNA or RNA into the body, without the use of viral delivery vehicles, may cause expression of the proteins encoded by the genetic sequences. Vical has additional issued patents covering the composition and use of the Vaxfectin ® adjuvant. Vical's CyMVectin™ Prophylactic CMV Vaccine Mothers who are infected with CMV during pregnancy can transmit the virus to the fetus, where it affects the development of the central nervous system. Congenital CMV is the leading infectious disease cause of birth defects in the United States, similar to rubella in the '40s and '50s before an effective vaccine was available. CMV-infected infants can be affected by blindness, deafness and mental retardation, and these consequences are frequently undiagnosed until the child reaches several years of age. Widespread vaccination of adolescent females has the potential to significantly reduce or even eliminate congenital CMV over time, and this market segment offers a significant commercial vaccine target. The successful launch of Merck's Gardasil ® vaccine for the prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV), a primary cause of cervical cancer, has demonstrated the size and receptivity of the adolescent female vaccine market. Targeting prevention of infection in females of child-bearing potential, Vical is developing CyMVectin™, a prophylactic DNA vaccine encoding the CMV gB and pp65 antigens and formulated with Vical's Vaxfectin ® adjuvant designed to enhance both antibody and T-cell responses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the company's Investigational New Drug (IND) application for a Phase 1 trial of the CyMVectin™ vaccine, and Vical is exploring collaborative opportunities for further development and commercialization. Vical's TransVax™ Therapeutic CMV Vaccine CMV affects 30% to 60% of patients undergoing transplant procedures, causing transplant rejection, serious illness and even death if untreated. Expensive and toxic antiviral drug therapy is used to control the disease, but does not eliminate the infection. There is no approved vaccine against CMV. Protein-based vaccines that predominantly result in antibody responses to CMV may have limited effectiveness in transplant patients. Live, attenuated vaccines can induce both antibody and cellular immune responses, but pose a potential safety concern, particularly for immunocompromised patients, of causing the disease they are intended to prevent.