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IAVI, GlycoMimetics, and Glycosensors and Diagnostics Collaborate to Develop Novel AIDS Vaccine Candidate

May 09, 2012

NEW YORK, NY, GAITHERSBURG, MD, and ATHENS, GA, May 9, 2012 – The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), GlycoMimetics, Inc. (GMI), and Glycosensors and Diagnostics, LLC (G&D) today announced a collaboration to develop an AIDS vaccine using novel compounds that mimic carbohydrates, called glycomimetics.  The project will be funded by IAVI’s Innovation Fund, a program launched to support the application of novel and unconventional technologies to AIDS vaccine design and development.

This innovative collaboration pairs the specialized design capabilities of GMI and the novel biomolecular simulation technology of G&D with the vaccine design expertise of Oxford University researcher Dr. Chris Scanlan and IAVI's unique anti-carbohydrate antibodies.  The goal of the project is to create carbohydrate immunogens capable of stimulating protective antibody responses to HIV.   "This effort combines the advanced technology and expertise from four diverse partners to address a major challenge in HIV vaccine design: the design of HIV vaccines that target the carbohydrate layer that shields the virus from the immune system," said Hansi Dean, Director, New Alliances at IAVI. 

The collaboration builds upon GMI’s expertise in glycobiology-based therapies and aims to develop compounds with improved stability over the native HIV glycan shield by mimicking structures that bind to neutralizing antibodies. As an emerging area for vaccine development, the effort explores ways to better understand the molecular interactions of functional carbohydrates, as well as the role of technology in the design of potent glycomimetic compounds as potential immunogens, the active ingredients of HIV vaccines. 

G&D, a company that provides enabling technologies for applications in glycoscience, will play a key role in the partnership by providing in silico (computer-simulated) and biophysical evaluation of the potential immunogens.  The company is led by Robert Woods, Ph.D., who is also Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Dr. Woods on this pivotal project,” said John Magnani, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, GlycoMimetics. “This provides an excellent opportunity to apply our specialized chemistry expertise to help address current unmet needs in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.”

“The opportunity to bring state-of-the-art computational techniques to bear on such a serious challenge in vaccine design is exciting,” said Dr. Woods, G&D President and developer of the GLYCAM modeling software. 

About GlycoMimetics, Inc.
GlycoMimetics is a privately held clinical-stage biotechnology company that capitalizes on advances in the field of glycobiology.  The company uses rational design of small molecule drugs that mimic the functions of bioactive carbohydrates to develop new drug candidates.  The company's initial focus is on therapeutics to treat inflammation, cancer, and infectious diseases.  GMI’s lead program, GMI-1070, currently in Phase 2 for sickle cell crisis, was recently partnered with Pfizer, Inc. in October 2011.  For more information, please visit: http://www.glycomimetics.com.

About the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)
IAVI is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world.  Founded in 1996, IAVI works with partners in 25 countries to research, design and develop AIDS vaccine candidates.  In addition, IAVI conducts policy analyses and serves as an advocate for the AIDS vaccine field.  IAVI supports a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV and AIDS that balances the expansion and strengthening of existing HIV-prevention and treatment programs with targeted investments in the design and development of new tools to prevent HIV. IAVI is dedicated to ensuring that a future AIDS vaccine will be available and accessible to all who need it. IAVI’s Innovation Fund supports the application of novel and unconventional technologies to AIDS vaccine design and development, and is partially supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  IAVI relies on the generous donations from governments, private individuals, corporations and foundations to carry out its mission.  For more information, see www.iavi.org.

About Glycosensors and Diagnostics, LLC
Glycosensors and Diagnostics employs computational methods to guide the design of carbohydrate-based therapeutics, as well as reagents that target unmet needs associated with the production and characterization of recombinant glycoprotein therapeutics.  These reagents include custom engineered proteins called Lectenz® with high affinity and specificity for glycosidic linkages.   For more information, please visit: http://www.glycosensors.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS
GlycoMimetics:  Brian Hahn, bhahn@glycomimetics.com, 240-243-1207
IAVI: Lauren Wesolowski, lwesolowski@iavi.org, 212-328-7420
Glycosensors and Diagnostics: Robert Woods, rwoods@glycosensors.com, 706-549-4484

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