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THSTI,IAVI announce new HIV vaccine design program in India
New Delhi | March 04, 2011 12:01:13 AM IST
 
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New Delhi, Mar.4 (ANI-Business Wire India): The Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute (THSTI), an autonomous institute of the Indian government's Department of Biotechnology, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has announced an agreement to jointly establish, operate and fund an HIV Vaccine Design Program in India.

The program will include the establishment of a new laboratory on the campus of THSTI in New Delhi.

The program will primarily focus on one of the greatest scientific challenges of AIDS vaccine design and development: the elicitation of antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of circulating HIV variants, a problem that stems in large part from the almost unparalleled mutability of HIV.

"With 7,100 people newly infected with HIV every day, effective tools to prevent infection are indispensable to the fight against HIV and AIDS," said M.K. Bhan, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology.

Bhan added: "India alone has 2.7 million HIV-positive people within its borders. A broadly effective AIDS vaccine would be a powerful asset to efforts to arrest the spread of HIV. The Department of Biotechnology believes that it is only through partnerships like the one we have forged, involving international collaborations and the open sharing of scientific knowledge, that we will boost translational research and solve the complex global biomedical problems of our times."

The HIV Vaccine Design Program will capitalize on recent research advances that have sparked a renaissance in AIDS vaccine research and development.

In September 2009, scientists at IAVI and their colleagues in the Neutralizing Antibody Consortium (NAC), which is run by IAVI, reported the isolation of a pair of potent and very broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV.

That discovery, the first of its kind in a decade, was followed by the isolation of other broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) by researchers at the Vaccine Research Center of the US National Institutes of Health and of still more by the IAVI-affiliated team.

The most promising of these antibodies are now being scrutinized by researchers to elucidate the specific mechanisms by which they bind to and neutralize HIV.

The idea is to create artificially synthesized mimics of their targets on HIV, to be used in vaccines to elicit similarly potent bNAbs and teach the immune system how to thwart HIV infection.

The IAVI-THSTI collaborative program will participate in a coordinated, global effort to create replicas of bNAb targets in the laboratory for use as immunogens, which are the active ingredients of vaccines.

This program will be charged with the complex task of developing, testing and then implementing strategies to rapidly screen large numbers of bNAb-based immunogens against HIV-1 and to prioritize them for further evaluation in preclinical studies.

The Department of Biotechnology, THSTI and IAVI expect that the program using high-throughput (HT) screening will ultimately lead to strategies for next generation immunogen design and expand the number of AIDS vaccine candidates available for assessment in human trials. (ANI)

 

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