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Rational HIV vaccine design via mammalian cell display (RATIONAL HIV VACCINE)
Start date: Aug 1, 2014, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This application proposes experiments to address one of the greatest challenges in HIV vaccine research: how can broadly neutralising antibodies be induced by vaccination in humans to target pathogens such as HIV, which are resistant to traditional vaccine approaches? The researcher and host labs will develop a mammalian display system using lentiviral vectors to express HIV proteins on the surface of mammalian cells and allow the in vitro evolution of different candidate vaccine immunogens in the outgoing host lab of Prof. Dennis Burton at The Scripps Research Institute. Optimisation of candidate vaccines will be achieved via random mutagenesis of the displayed immunogens followed by iterative rounds of selection for the ability to interact with novel highly potent broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies. The immunogens developed will initially be assessed for their ability to select for HIV neutralising antibodies in a novel in vitro antibody maturation system. The researcher will have access to first-rate career development advice from both hosts and via courses provided at both host institutes. The technical skills and translational skills acquired during the fellowship will be applied during the return phase in the HIV research lab of Prof. Deenan Pillay at University College London. The experimental skills acquired by the researcher will enrich the European research area during the return phase as they can be applied to other viral vaccine targets for which no effective vaccine is available e.g. influenza and hepatitis C. Thus the scientific advances made during this project have great potential significance for HIV vaccine research and the training received during the fellowship will place the researcher in an optimal position to start a research laboratory at a European Institution.
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