Research Areas:

HIV-AIDS

Hiv is the sexually transmitted virus that causes AIDS. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs not only prevents AIDS in the patient, it also prevents transmission of the virus to others. Therefore antiviral drugs play an important role in the battle against HIV, but it is not enough to stop the pandemic. Last year 2 million people got infected with HIV and a vaccine would be of great benefit.

BPRC contributes to this field with several (S)HIV models in monkeys. We use these models for proof of concept studies for new vaccine candidates. Over the years BPRC evaluated many vaccines but so far none provided full protection against HIV infection. Thanks to monkey models we know much more about how ‘smart’ the virus is, and how it evades the immune system and escapes from vaccine induced immunity. Classical vaccine strategies do not suffice and more complicated vaccine strategies are required.

Highlights in 2018:

- New insights in HIV vaccines

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New insights in HIV vaccines

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The European HIV Alliance (EHVA) is a multidisciplinary network supported by the EU. It comprises of 39 academic and industrial research partners, one of which is BPRC. One of the aims is to develop an effective HIV vaccine and bring that to the clinic. Latest insight is that a, so called, prime-boost vaccine strategy has the best chance to provide protection from HIV infection. To determine the best priming strategy, BPRC performed a proof of principle study in monkeys. The study compared an HIV-encoding RNA vaccine that replicates only in dividing cells, an HIV-encoding replicon that replicates in all cells and an mRNA/TriMix vaccine. The results are now being evaluated within the network.

In parallel, other partners within the network are working on the optimal boosting strategy. In a later stage, a combination study will be needed in rhesus monkeys to determine the best prime-boost combination. The best candidate will be moved forward to the clinic. Moreover, the data from the network partners will be used to identify immune correlates of control of HIV replication following immunological intervention.

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