July 31, 2020

DHVI Investigator receives R01 renewal

Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Saunders on the renewal of his R01 entitled, “HIV-1 vaccine-elicited antibodies target envelope glycans”.

During HIV-1 replication, its proteins are covered in sugar molecules derived from the infected cell. The dense coat of host sugar molecules covers targets on the viral protein, allowing HIV-1 to circumvent host immune recognition by antibodies. In the first term of Dr. Saunders’ grant, the team found a novel subset of antibodies that form atypical I-shaped IgG molecules, and have the ability to bind to the HIV-1 envelope protein via the dense shield of sugar molecules. These antibodies, when found in macaques infected with the macaque version of HIV-1, exhibited broad inhibitory activity against HIV-1 infection. This type of antibody could be part of an effective antibody response if elicited by vaccination. The goal of this funding period of the grant is to generate, with vaccination, protective antibodies that target the sugar molecules on HIV-1 envelope protein. Dr. Saunders’ team will aim to elicit in macaques such protective, anti-HIV-1 antibodies with a nanoparticle vaccine. The nanoparticle vaccine is designed to focus the immune system on the appropriate type and number of sugar molecules needed to recognize and neutralize diverse HIV-1 isolates