Gates Foundation Supports DHVI Investigators in HIV Vaccine Development

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July 27, 2006

Dr. Barton Haynes and Dr. David Montefiori of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute have been awarded $46.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.  The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise was established in 2003 as a collaborative global effort to promote the development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine.  The Gates Foundation has set out to advance this mission by contributing more than $287 million in support of HIV vaccine development and discovery.  The Foundation awarded funds to eleven consortia that will focus on novel methods in vaccine design and five central laboratories and data analysis facilities that will provide state-of-the-art technologies to evaluate candidate vaccines.  These sixteen grants are collectively known as the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery.

Dr. Barton Haynes will lead one of the vaccine discovery consortia titled, “Broadly Reactive Neutralizing Antibodies: Novel Strategies for Vaccine Design.”  The goal of this consortium is to produce vaccine candidates that elicit neutralizing antibodies against HIV, currently a major hurdle in HIV vaccine research.  HIV has evolved to manipulate the immune system with many mechanisms to escape detection in order to survive.  These mechanisms allow HIV to present itself as part of the host immune system in order to inhibit the production of antibodies that could neutralize the virus.  According to Haynes, a vaccine must break this immune tolerance in order to stimulate antibodies that recognize HIV as an invading antigen.  With the assistance of this grant and in conjunction with CHAVI studies, Dr. Haynes and his colleagues will pursue several novel vaccine design strategies to induce neutralizing antibodies including using recombinant vectors to deliver immunogens and using autoantigens to elicit antibody responses. 
 
Dr. David Montefiori will lead the “Comprehensive Antibody Vaccine Immune Monitoring Consortium,” an international network of laboratories that will conduct diagnostic testing to determine the immunogenicity of viable vaccine candidates.  Specifically, this consortium with be evaluating the capacity of vaccine candidates to elicit neutralizing antibodies, therefore, Dr. Montefiori’s work will complement the vaccine discovery consortium led by Dr. Haynes.  As one of the goals of the vaccine discovery consortia is to induce broadly cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies, this consortium will help establish a standardized evaluation system to which all of the central facilities will adhere in order to communicate a broad spectrum of results more efficiently.
 
DHVI is grateful to the Gates Foundation for their support and is honored to collaborate with the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.  These grants will expand the DHVI and CHAVI infrastructure so that discovery concepts in HIV vaccine design can quickly evolve into practical therapeutic and preventative solutions for the global community.