NIAID grants University of Maryland team $14.4M for HIV vax work

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As it works to advance an HIV vaccine candidate, the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV) this week received some big-name backing. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) approved a $14.4 million grant for the team--led by veteran HIV researcher Dr. Robert Gallo--to continue its work toward creating an effective HIV vaccine.

The influx follows the group’s move into clinical trials last fall for its full-length single chain HIV vaccine prospect, a candidate designed to elicit protection “across the spectrum HIV-1 strains,” according to an IHV release. The researchers hope the candidate will serve as a system to inform all HIV vaccine design.

Gallo, whose group co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS decades ago, said the NIAID and other funding sources--including the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation--are “critical partners” in efforts to solve the “complex scientific challenge” of creating a durable vaccine against the virus.

But Maryland's IHV is far from alone in its R&D efforts, and it isn’t alone in winning NIAID support. In June, University of Massachusetts researchers won a $17.3 million grant from NIAID to develop and manufacture a prime-boost candidate for a midstage trial. The following month, a Texas Biomed team secured $23 million to explore an approach that will utilize three lines of defense for protection.

Those grants followed an announcement by the NIH that it’s launching a large-scale Phase IIb/III HIV vaccine trial in South Africa later this year. It’ll test HVTN 100--made up of one experimental vaccine each supplied by Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline--in 5,400 HIV-uninfected men and women with 5 injections over one year.

Other commitments to the field include Aelix Therapeutics, which launched with $12.7 million in January, and a €23 million public-private partnership launched last year by the European Commission.

- here's the release

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