FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

IAVI praises TSRI for new approach to vaccine design

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of HIV vaccines, congratulated researchers at The Scripps Research Institute on Thursday for developing a new approach to vaccine design.

TSRI successfully employed new designer proteins to create a vaccine that elicited broadly neutralizing antibodies against respiratory syncytial virus in preclinical studies. RSV is a significant cause of child mortality.

William Schief, a member of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center and an associate professor of immunology at TSRI, led a team to create immunogens using cutting edge software. Immunogens are the active components of vaccines. In the study, the custom designed proteins targeting RSV were administered to monkeys.

The designer proteins resulted in robust production of bNAbs which were able to bind to and neutralize RSV in a laboratory test. The results suggest the immunogens were designed correctly and that a vaccine candidate employing them could elicit the antibodies as well.

"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."

IAVI helped to fund the study. The organization's research portfolio includes a priority focus on developing a vaccine for AIDS that is able to generate bNAbs.

"This achievement represents the confluence of recent technological advances and offers great potential for accelerating next-generation vaccines against major global diseases," Wayne Koff, the chief scientific officer at IAVI, said.