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IAVI and VaxDesign partner to develop a clinical trial in a test tube for AIDS vaccines

NEW YORK, March 3, 2008 The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) today announced the first award from its Innovation Fund, a new funding mechanism that will identify and advance potential breakthrough technologies and apply them in the AIDS vaccine research field. This initial project will apply an exciting new technology, a simulated human immune system the size of a small coin, which has the potential to predict human immune responses to new vaccines and drugs.

Under development by VaxDesign Corporation, the Modular IMmune In vitro Construct (MIMIC) system could radically transform AIDS vaccine research and development. The technology uses human immune cells from volunteers to create simulated human immune responses. The MIMIC models reproduce both innate and adaptive immune responses, and exhibit both humoral and cellular immunity. VaxDesign has the capacity to run thousands of these immune simulations per month. IAVI will first test the technology on licensed vaccines for yellow fever and rabies to see whether the immune responses generated in vitro are the same as those elicited in humans who receive the vaccine. If the technology proves successful, IAVI and VaxDesign will further develop and apply it to the screening of novel immunogens for AIDS vaccines at its AIDS Vaccine Development Laboratory in Brooklyn, New York.

Currently, pre-clinical testing of AIDS vaccines is a labor-intensive, lengthy and expensive process. We hope this pioneering technology will enable us to rapidly test AIDS vaccine candidates and predict their effectiveness in humans in a way that has never before been possible with animal models, said Dr. Wayne Koff, IAVIs Senior Vice President for Research and Development. Whats more, by collecting immune cells from different donors, promising vaccine candidates can be tested in diverse populations before they enter human testing.

HIV is a formidable adversary, and evaluating AIDS vaccine candidates will be the ultimate test for our MIMIC technology. We are excited to partner with IAVI to help develop the next generation of AIDS vaccine candidates, said Dr. William Warren, President and CEO of VaxDesign.

Targeted primarily to small- and medium-sized biotechnology companies, IAVIs Innovation Fund will proactively seek out and finance nascent technologies that could help solve some of the main technical and scientific hurdles facing AIDS vaccine research and ultimately lead to the development of more promising candidates for human testing. With an initial three-year commitment of US$10 million, half of which will be financed by a US$5 million grant to IAVI from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Innovation Fund will provide rapid and flexible funding in just eight weeks from application to award for pioneering ideas outside the traditional realm of AIDS vaccine research.

Now more than ever, the AIDS vaccine field needs out-of-the-box concepts that can help us develop better candidates for testing, said Dr. Seth Berkley, IAVI President and CEO. VaxDesigns novel technology is one of many hidden gems that we plan to seek out and develop for AIDS vaccine research.

"The Gates Foundation is proud to support IAVI in exploring innovative approaches for addressing the challenges of discovering an effective HIV vaccine," said Dr. Jos Esparza, Senior Advisor on HIV Vaccines for the Gates Foundation. "IAVI and its partners have a track record of advancing novel vaccine technologies, and of moving promising concepts rapidly into development."


Contact: Megan Youmans
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

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