Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded up to nearly $6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an HIV/AIDS alternative vaccine that has demonstrated potential in animal models.
The research, to be led by TSRI Professor Michael Farzan, will be supported by four years of funding—the first grant awarded by the Gates Foundation to a Scripps Florida scientist.
“I’m grateful to the Gates Foundation for its strong support of our research and for its continued commitment to eradicating HIV/AIDS throughout the world,” Dr Farzan explained in a press release about the grant.
The vaccine approach works by coaxing muscle cells into producing inhibitor proteins that block key sites on the virus’s surface used to attach and invade human immune cells—fooling the virus into thinking it is binding to a human cell. Unable to attach to cells, and unable to reproduce, the virus simply floats impotently in the blood stream.
When the drug candidate, called eCD4-lg, was tested in the laboratory and in animal models, it offered complete protection of animal models against the virus for up to one year.
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida were awarded a $5.8 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last Thursday, to continue their promising work in developing a radical new HIV vaccine.