A five-year, $24.6 million grant to David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development, will support efforts to facilitate the discovery and timely licensure of a safe, effective, and practical HIV vaccine. A five-year, $31.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation in 2006 enabled Montefiori to establish the Comprehensive Antibody Vaccine Immune Monitoring Consortium.
A $11.7 million grant over three years to Barton Haynes, director of the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, will fund research on the best way to create effective immunogens that mimic proteins and help stimulate the right antibodies to neutralize the virus at the time of transmission.
In addition, Michael Frank, a professor of pediatrics and immunology, was awarded a three-year, $892,000 grant to continue his study of complement proteins, which are present before a person receives a vaccine and help facilitate host defense. "We made the observation that intact HIV envelope antigen binds complement [proteins] poorly or not at all, and postulate that this contributes to the poor response to the viral antigen," said Frank. "We believe that failure to bind complement [proteins] contributes to the poor antibody response in HIV vaccine recipients immunized to prevent HIV infection. We also find that the intact HIV envelope antigen has a very short half-life in vivo that further contributes to the poor response to the vaccine."