The Duke Human Vaccine Institute houses three NIAID funded HIV Vaccine Research and Development (HIVRAD) programs
1. Immunogen Design for Induction of HIV Distal gp41 Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies
In this study, Munir Alam, Ph.D. will work to design immunogens that can initiate and induce neutralizing antibodies targeting the HIV-1 Envelope membrane proximal external region (MPER). Dr. Alam and team will work in collaboration with Scripps Institute and Harvard University to combine structure and lineage based vaccine development strategies to design immunogens that will initiate and select potent distal MPER broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAb) B cell lineages that are not polyreactive and therefore easier to induce. Together their expertise will be a powerful approach to the problem of vaccine induction of disfavored antibody lineages in general and distal MPER bnAbs in particular.
2. Maternal and Infant Immunization to Eliminate Breast Milk Transmission of HIV-1
Dr. Sallie Permar and collaborators aim to develop and perform preclinical testing of maternal and infant HIV vaccine regimens that aim to prevent infant HIV-1 infection. If an HIV-1-free generation is to be achieved, mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission (MTCT) of HIV-1 must be eradicated. While antiretroviral prophylaxis strategies effectively prevent MTCT, they do not eliminate transmission in high-risk settings such as acute maternal infection, development of maternal drug-resistant variants, and lack of antiretroviral drug access or adherence. An attractive solution is the development of immunologic interventions for MTCT, such as vaccines.
3. SHIV/HIV Env-Antibody Coevolution as a Guide to Iterative Vaccine Design
A major roadblock to rational HIV-1 vaccine design is the lack of an animal model where the induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) can be achieved in a consistent and reproducible way such that the molecular events responsible for bNAb elicitation can be deciphered and used to inform and guide iterative HIV-1 vaccine design. Dr. George Shaw, from the University of Pennsylvania, will work in collaboration with DHVI Investigators, Drs. Garnett Kelsoe and Wilton Williams, to develop a new strategy to overcome this roadblock by using novel SHIVs as immunogens and novel B cell analytics to elucidate Env-Ab coevolutionary pathways, leading to innovative new strategies in B lineage based vaccine design.