Altravax lands $3.45M from NIH for HIV vaccine research

North Dakota-based Altravax landed two research grants worth $3.45 million from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for research on HIV-1 vaccines that induce antibody production.

The company will use its MolecularBreeding technology to create vaccines that provide expanded protection against the different strains of HIV-1. Part of the difficulty in finding a vaccine for HIV is the continually changing nature and abundance of the virus.

Altravax acquired the MolecularBreeding technology platform from Maxygen ($MAXY) in January 2010. The company will publish its latest HIV/AIDS research, completed by Dr. Kristin Narayan and colleagues from Altravax in collaboration with the Scripps Research Institute, in the journal PLoS One.

"We are pleased that the NIH has recognized the value of our technology in the search for an HIV vaccine," Dr. Robert Whalen, the chief scientific officer at Altravax, said in a statement. "Our proposal to create vaccines that can more effectively stimulate the immune system represents a novel approach, and the recent award of these two grants will allow us to thoroughly explore this possibility."

According to World Health Organization estimates, more than 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2011.

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