North Carolina's Duke University and California's Scripps Research Institute received a combined $31 million in first-year funding to direct the new Centers for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology & Immunogen Discovery. The program fuels the long-time hunt for vaccines against intractable HIV.
Over 6 years, the initiative is expected to receive $186 million, which will go toward accelerating HIV vaccine development. Researchers will study immune responses that prevent or contain HIV infection and generate model vaccine components that can induce such responses, according to a National Institutes of Health release.
Duke received $19.9 million and Scripps received $11.1 million in funding for fiscal 2012. The groups have a tricky task ahead, as any worthy vaccine would have to provide a broad defense against multiple strains of HIV. Vaccines, of course, offer the promise of preventing infection in people at risk of HIV, which is now treated with anti-viral drugs.
"In recent years, considerable progress has been made in identifying antibodies that can prevent a broad range of HIV strains from infecting human cells," Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said in a statement. "CHAVI-ID will attempt to understand how these antibodies and other immune responses work to protect against HIV infection, providing scientists with a rational foundation for designing what we hope will be an effective HIV vaccine."
The United States sees an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections each year, and an estimated 34 million people live with HIV worldwide, according to the NIAID.
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