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The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has focused on HIV vaccine development for more than 20 years now. At this stage the important scientific work carried out by IAVI is still, and unfortunately, required. Indeed since 2005, two million new infections have occurred each year, despite antiretroviral treatment.
In the course of the scientific work for developing a vaccine, a breakthrough discovery showed that naturally occurring antibodies would neutralize proteins on the surface of the virus, “disarming” the HIV. However, the protein proved to be too unstable to be effectively targeted and needed to be stabilized first.
To find a solution, IAVI had previously ran a search focused on vaccine specialists only, but unfortunately didn’t receive any solutions of value.
NineSigma re-defined with IAVI the challenge as a protein “stabilization” problem.
Reframing the problem differently opened up a new audience to target, which encouraged more than 30 proposals submitted by protein researchers globally.
A result of the quality and volume of responses, IAVI was able to secure additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The global search identified two scientists who received a total of $875K to develop solutions for generating stable protein complexes for use in AIDS vaccines. Funded scientists were: Dr. Rogier Sanders, Academic Medical Center, Medical Microbiology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Dr. Ralf Wagner, University of Regensburg Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Regensburg, Germany.
“NineSigma provided a number of promising new approaches to protein stabilization that we had not previously explored. We are confident that the researchers they helped identify have much to contribute to the development of an effective AIDS vaccine.”
Wayne Koff, Chief Scientific Officer, Iavi