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Identification of novel HIV-1 epitopes as vaccine candidates

Final Report Summary - EPI-VAC (Identification of novel HIV-1 epitopes as vaccine candidates)

The aim of this project is to select peptide epitopes that mimic neutralisation sensitive domains of human immunodefiency virus (HIV)-1 envelope and may function as candidate HIV-1 vaccines. To date, efforts to develop a truly prophylactic HIV-1 vaccine have been hindered by difficulty in identifying immunogens that elicit broadly neutralising antibodies. This lack of significant cross-protection raises further concerns on the capacity of classical Env-based vaccines to afford substantial protection against field isolates.

Indeed, current unmodified gp120 or gp140 envelope-based vaccines in human subjects have shown little or no protection from heterologous HIV-1 isolates such as would be encountered in the field. This indicates that vaccine trials with currently available immunogens will afford low percentages of protection with a large number of vaccine breakthroughs and will raise ethical and financial issues concerning the treatment of any volunteers who become infected.

To date the project has been successful with:

- Identification and chemical synthesis of peptides and proteins that stimulate an anti-HIV immune response. The novel immunogens are expected to be non-toxic.
- When validated in monkeys models of SHIV/SIV infection, the novel immunogens are expected to share a substantial percentage of the vaccine market.
- The project is at the development stage of validating the immune properties in rabbits; further support is required to proceed toward the non-human primate models.
- Collaboration sought or offered (manufacturing agreement, financial support or investment, information exchange, training, consultancy, other).
- Collaborations are welcomed from pharmaceutical companies and private/public Institutions.
- The strategy and the single peptides/proteins are being covered by patenting.

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