February 28, 2014

IAVI Applauds News of Promising New Approach to Vaccine Design

Proof-of-concept for vaccine candidate that can elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies could be applied to HIV, other challenging viruses

NEW YORK – IAVI, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, congratulates researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) for successfully employing new “designer proteins” to create a vaccine that, in preclinical studies, was shown to  elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against a virus that is a significant cause of child mortality.

As detailed in the TSRI announcement, a team led by William R. Schief, a member of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center and an associate professor of immunology at TSRI, created cutting-edge software to help design immunogens, the active components of vaccines. As a test case, custom-designed proteins targeting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) were administered to monkeys and resulted in robust bNAb production.  Importantly, these bNAbs were able to bind to and neutralize RSV in a laboratory test—evidence that the immunogens were designed correctly and that the vaccine candidate could elicit bNAbs.

“We are going to push hard to see if we can make a vaccine for infants and children using these new technologies,” Schief said. “We’re also trying to improve this protein design method further and apply it to other vaccine projects including HIV and influenza vaccines.”

“This achievement represents the confluence of recent technological advances and offers great potential for accelerating next-generation vaccines against major global diseases,” said Wayne C. Koff, Chief Scientific Officer at IAVI, which helped fund the study. IAVI’s research portfolio includes a priority focus on developing an AIDS vaccine that can generate bNAbs.