SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

The Scripps Research Institute receives grant for AIDS vaccination research

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institutes of Health provided a $13 million grant on Thursday to a team from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) for the study of antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The lead investigator of the five-year study will be Richard Wyatt, a professor of immunology and director of viral immunology for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative's Neutralizing Antibody Center at TSRI.

The search for an effective HIV vaccine has been ongoing since 1983, when the virus was isolated. HIV's unusual structure and variability, however, make it difficult for the body's defenses to effectively target.

B cells have been shown to produce antibodies that neutralize a wide variety of HIV strains in a small minority of infected people who have shown an immune response to the virus. The broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNABs) do not stop infections from establishing in their own body, but they do neutralize most circulating viruses. The identification of vaccine-elicited bNABs could be a positive step toward finding an effective HIV vaccine.

The project will attempt to generate antibodies to the virus and assess their neutralizing capacity. The project is titled "High Resolution Analysis of Env-directed B Cells to Accelerate Vaccine Design."

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