UPDATED: Analyst: Genocea's genital herpes vaccine better positioned than Agenus' to enter market

Genocea Biosciences' ($GNCA) GEN-003 vaccine is well-positioned to compete in the genital herpes treatment market. And it's in an even better position than Agenus' ($AGEN) HerpV, according to a GlobalData analyst.

According to Daian Cheng, GlobalData's analyst covering infectious diseases, both vaccines use novel methods that can address some of the unmet needs in the genital herpes market. But Cheng says GEN-003 is stronger, both clinically and commercially.

"Despite encouraging clinical trial results for HerpV, Agenus has encountered cash flow problems and has expressed interest in forming partnerships and licensing agreements to further develop the vaccine," Cheng said.

Agenus is not having cash flow problems, said Bob Stein, Agenus' chief scientific officer.

"We have $100 million in the bank and we have over a year's worth of runway," Stein said. The company is in a number of discussions considering many funding options going forward, he said. Its highest priority at the moment, though, is its checkpoint modulator programs.

Genocea CEO Chip Clark

What Genocea is targeting, CEO Chip Clark told FierceVaccines, is the genital lesion rate and the viral shedding rate, or the rate at which the virus, which lives in nerve cells, makes its way to the skin and physically sheds.

Genocea reported Phase I/IIa results in October: 6 months after dosage, its candidate provoked an immune response and reduced genital lesion rate by 65% and viral shedding by 40%.

"What's exciting about this is, of course, it shows our commitment to the space… (and) further cement(s) that we've done something that has never been done before in the field," Clark said.

Genocea is now running a Phase II trial to determine the best dose of the vaccine. Following this, Genocea plans to study the interaction of GEN-003 with oral antivirals for herpes. In the future, "assuming we get approved," those patients for whom the oral pill is a partial or even no solution may choose to combine or replace the treatment with GEN-003, he said.

Agenus reported in June 2014 that in a Phase II trial, its candidate triggered an immune response and reduced the viral shedding rate by 15% before the administration of a booster. After the booster shot, HerpV demonstrated a durable reduction in viral shedding approximating 14%, Agenus said in a statement.

- here's the GlobalData release
- get Genocea's Phase I/IIa results
- see Agenus' Phase II results

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