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HIV-1 continues to have a devastating impact in resource-poor regions where antiretroviral therapy is not widely available. Although 9.7 million people in low-to-medium income countries had access to antiretroviral treatment in 2012, for every 2 patients receiving therapy, 5 people became infected with HIV-1, equating to ~7,000 new infections daily.
A prophylactic vaccine represents the best strategy for blocking HIV-1 transmission, however, this goal is yet to be achieved.
Neutralising antibodies, that attach to viruses and stop their ability to infect human cells, are a strong correlate of protection for many antiviral vaccines. The HIV-1 surface glycoproteins are the major target of neutralising antibodies and thus an essential component of a vaccine.
However, vaccines using the isolated HIV-1 glycoproteins have thus far failed to induce broadly reactive neutralising antibodies that can neutralize a wide variety of HIV-1 strains.
We aim to use an alternative vaccination approach using membrane bound forms of the Env complex on virus like particles (HIVLPs). In this project, we will determine whether enhancing the presentation of neutralising antibody targets in HIVLP vaccines will enable them to produce diverse and potent broadly neutralising antibodies in experimental animals.
The validation of a HIV-1 vaccine methodology that enhances the generation of potent neutralising antibody responses positions the technology for partnering with groups with established HIV-1 vaccine programs, including the Centre for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and companies like GeoVax, with whom the Burnet Institute has strong links, for inclusion in future clinical trials.