July 18, 2012
The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and Duke University have been awarded a federal grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for HIV/AIDS vaccine research and development. The NIAID grant will be used to lead the newly created Centers for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery, or CHAVI-ID.
The first year grant is $31 million, with $11.1 million going to Scripps; it expects to receive about $77 million over the life of the grant. According to Carl Diefenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at NIAID, the size of the grant reflects the National Institutes of Health's high expectations for an AIDS vaccine coming from these institutions.
Multidisciplinary teams at both institutions will investigate the "broadly neutralizing antibodies" of people whose immune systems seem to effectively neutralize HIV and try to create a vaccine that induces the same immune response. In 2009, the Scripps team and others working with the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative announced they had identified two such antibodies in people, and the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center was established.
Scripps scientist Dennis Burton, who will lead the new La Jolla center, said the potential to develop a vaccine has increased with new techniques and a global effort to find people with HIV-resistant immune systems. However, Burton cautioned that a vaccine is not imminent, and more basic science needs to be done.
Dr. Barton F. Haynes will lead the Duke effort, which will take a similar approach as Scripps but also will explore other areas. Duke will revisit Thailand-based trials that used a combination of two vaccines and lowered infection rates by about 30 percent.
San Diego Union-Tribune
07.12.2012; Janet Lavelle
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