Partnership aims to design immunogens that trigger neutralizing antibodies against multiple HIV strains.

India’s Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute (THSTI) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) are to establish a joint HIV Vaccine Design Program in India. The new venture will involve setting up a new laboratory at the THSTI campus in New Delhi, and it will focus on developing synthetic immunogens that could form the basis of an HIV vaccine capable of eliciting immune responses against a broad spectrum of HIV variants. THSTI is an autonomous body within the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology.

The IAVI-THSTI collaboration will build on the promise of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies (bNAbs) that over recent years have been identified both by IAVI and its affiliate scientists and by researchers at organizations including the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center. The Indian venture will be part of a coordinated global effort to generate replicas of bNAb targets for use as vaccine immunogens that would trigger antibody responses capable of neutralizing a range of HIV strains. The work will involve developing, testing, and implementing strategies to rapidly screen large numbers of bNAb-based immunogens against HIV-1 and prioritizing them for further validation in preclinical studies.

“We are grateful for the unequivocal support this partnership has received from the Indian government and are confident it will contribute to ongoing efforts in India and elsewhere to design a broadly effective AIDS vaccine,” remarks Seth Berkley, IAVI’s CEO. “India has an exceptional reserve of top-notch researchers, some of whom are already working closely with IAVI.”

“India alone has 2.7 million HIV-positive people within its borders,” adds M.K. Bahn, the Indian government’s secretary of the Department of Biotechnology. “A broadly effective AIDS vaccine would be a powerful asset to efforts to arrest the spread of HIV. The Government of India is convinced that this partnership has collateral benefits for the nation that go beyond advancing the development of broadly effective AIDS vaccines. It is only through partnerships like the one we have forged, involving international collaborations and the open sharing of scientific knowledge, that we will boost translational research and solve the complex global biomedical problems of our times.”

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