Seattle Researchers are a Significant Step Closer to an HIV Vaccine

Research team finds a vaccine candidate that stimulates the production of neutralizing antibodies that defend against infection from a broad spectrum of HIV strains

A team of researchers have discovered a vaccine candidate that is expected to stimulate the production of neutralizing antibodies that defend against infection from a broad spectrum of HIV strains. A manuscript published in Science magazine details the work and discovery from a team of Seattle-based researchers led by Dr. Leo Stamatatos. Stamatatos conducted the research while he was at Seattle BioMed before moving his team to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center earlier this year.
The vaccine consists of a protein antigen which works by stimulating the progenitors of those B cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies that bind to a wide spectrum of HIV strains. By binding to the HIV virus, the antibodies block infections or "neutralize" the virus.
"The hypothesis and approach is something completely different from what's been done before," said Stamatatos, a member of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutch. "Just for that, I feel optimistic that we're going to be one step closer to finding a vaccine."
The vaccine builds upon previous work by scientists and addresses the inefficiencies of other promising vaccine approaches. If progress continues, the vaccine could be in human trials in two years.
"We're so proud of the work done by Dr. Stamatatos and his team at Seattle BioMed. This is a very exciting step forward for HIV/AIDS research and represents several years of outstanding work toward a fundamentally different way of inducing protection through an HIV vaccine," said Dr. John Aitchison, scientific director at Seattle BioMed.
"These findings give researchers new clues to improve the chances of inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies, which is the holy grail of an HIV vaccine," said Dr. Julie McElrath, senior vice president and director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutch
The clinical trials will determine, for the first time in humans, whether the vaccine can elicit the right neutralizing antibodies to block the virus. Researchers will then need to determine how to maintain the antibodies for extended periods and ensure they are at the surface where HIV enters the body.
About Seattle Biomedical Research Institute
Seattle BioMed is the largest independent, non-profit organization in the U.S. focused solely on infectious disease research. Our research is the foundation for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics that benefit those who need our help most: the 14 million who will otherwise die each year from infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Founded in 1976, Seattle BioMed has more than 230 staff members. By partnering with key collaborators around the globe, we strive to make discoveries that will save lives sooner. For more information, visit
About Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch's pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation's first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women's Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Michael Nank, 206-667-6906 
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute
Edward Jenkins, 206-256-7440