Altravax won two research grants totaling $3.45 million from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) toward research on antibody-inducing vaccines for HIV-1.

Altravax says it will create vaccines designed to protect broadly against various strains of HIV-1, using its MolecularBreeding™ directed evolution technology licensed from Maxygen. MolecularBreeding consists of an in vitro homologous DNA recombination process or “DNA Shuffling” to create libraries of chimeric genes expressing variant proteins, plus screening technologies that include assays to rapidly identify immunogens best suited for a specific vaccine.

“Our proposal to create vaccines that can more effectively stimulate the immune system represents a novel approach, and the recent award of these two grants will allow us to thoroughly explore this possibility,” says Robert Whalen, D.Sc., chief scientific officer at Altravax. “The current lack of viable vaccine candidates limits the ability of biotechnology companies to invest in HIV vaccine research with their own funds.”

PLoS ONE will soon publish Altravax’ latest research on vaccines for HIV/AIDS, performed by Kristin Narayan, Ph.D., and colleagues from the company in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute.

In 2010, NIAID awarded Altravax two Small Business Innovation Research grants totaling $1.2 million for earlier HIV-1 antibody-inducing vaccine research using MolecularBreeding.

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