Julio Cesar Aguilar Rubido
Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Cuba
Julio Cesar Aguilar Rubido completed his PhD in Biological Sciences. Titular Investigator, Project leader Therapeutic Vaccine against Chronic Infectious Diseases. Main author of 12 patent applications, 2 book chapters, 3 Review articles, 55 original research articles, 11 clinical protocols (phase I to Phase IV), 60 scientific presentations (Oral + Posters) in international meetings. He is the Young member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Cuban Society of Immunology.
Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection constitutes a major cause of HCC, liver cirrhosis worldwide. HeberNasvac is a novel therapeutic vaccine based in the recombinant HBsAg and HBcAg. These proteins contain adjuvant and immunomodulatory properties that supported the clinical development of HeberNasvac. Materials & Methods: Four clinical trials evaluated the administration of HeberNasvac, three of them in CHB patients. Two studies were carried out in treatment-naïve patients and a third was conducted in non-responders to IFN-ï¡ therapy. The viral load was monitored as main variable in all the studies involving CHB patients. Serological evaluations for HBe and HBsAg and their corresponding antibodies were also conducted. The transaminases, bilirubin and other liver and hematological markers were evaluated to assess product safety. Balb/c mice, rabbits and AAV HBV transfected/HLA double transgenic mice were used as models to evaluate the capacity of the nasal route of immunization to generate systemic and especially liver immune responses. Results: Clinical trials evidenced a significant reduction of the viral load to undetectable levels and under 104 copies/mL, both at end of treatment and after 24/48 weeks follow-up evaluations, evidencing the sustained control of the virus. Liver function tests and hematological variables evidenced the safety of this product. Serological responses were higher to PegIFN treatment. Action mechanism studies related to the route of immunization evidenced the role of the nasal route of immunization in the induction of T cells at the target organ, the liver. Conclusions: The vaccination with HeberNasvac is effective and safe, supporting its use as therapy against CHB infection. The studies of immunogenicity in novel model of CHB infection evidenced the effect of the nasal route of immunization in the liver homing of effector T cells. These results suggest that HeberNasvac may contribute as a novel treatment for CHB.