Two New Vaccines Protect Mice From Zika Virus Infection

STAT News

Two new experimental vaccines protect mice against the Zika virus, a study out Tuesday shows.

Researchers from governments, academic labs, and biopharma companies have been rushing to develop Zika vaccines since global health experts started warningabout the previously unknown dangers wrought by the mosquito-borne virus,  including serious birth defects. Just last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first human testing of a Zika vaccine candidate from the company Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

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Inside the U.S. Army Lab Racing to Create a Zika Vaccine

  • Wired Magazine
  • Eric Niller

Rafael de la Barrera reaches into a freezer and pulls out a plastic jug of rusty-red liquid. He wipes frost off the label: “Zika Virus – Puerto Rico strain. 24Mar16.” The liquid—stored at -80 degrees F to keep the malicious virus inert—is a solution isolated from monkey liver cells. If the US Army pulls off this ambitious research effort, it’ll be one of the ingredients in a vaccine for the microcephaly-causing disease sweeping through the Americas.

Barrera, a lab supervisor at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., has a personal stake in this work. He’s a native of Colombia, where Zika has been ravaging much of the countryside, including his hometown. “I have family members who are infected,” Barrera says. “This is one of the reasons why we spend hours and hours working on this.”

Barrera and his team of about 10 scientists and technicians have been working full-time on Zika for the past six months. “It’s the virus du jour,” he jokes.

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Top HIV Scientists Awarded $42 Million in National Institutes of Health Funding to Improve Efficacy of HIV Vaccine Platforms

BIDMC, OHSU to Lead Consortium Exploring Vaccine Candidate and Cure Strategies

BOSTON - With $42 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) will lead a five-year research initiative to advance efforts to cure and prevent HIV/AIDS.  Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC, and Louis Picker, MD, Assistant Director of the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, will lead a consortium of researchers from across the country exploring the mechanisms behind promising new HIV vaccine candidates and potential cure strategies. 

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Researchers Uncover Earliest Events Following HIV Infection, Before Virus Is Detectable

Findings Could Lead to New HIV Prevention Strategies

BOSTON – New research in monkeys exposed to SIV, the animal equivalent of HIV, reveals what happens in the very earliest stages of infection, before virus is even detectable in the blood, which is a critical but difficult period to study in humans. The findings, published online today in the journal Cell, have important implications for vaccine development and other strategies to prevent infection.

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CVVR Volunteer Registry is Now Live!

The Center for Virology and Vaccine Research launched a Volunteer Registry for adults interested in clinical trial participation on December 21st, 2015. The new CVVR Clinical Trials Unit established the Volunteer Registry in anticipation of CVVR clinical trials beginning this year at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. These clinical trials will connect the CVVR lab bench where the research vaccines were developed to the research volunteer’s bedside where the vaccines will be administered, all under the roof of BIDMC. Research volunteers are essential to clinical trials. The Volunteer Registry brings together researchers and volunteers with the common goal of helping others live healthier lives. The purpose of the Volunteer Registry is to collect and maintain information that people voluntarily supply so they may be contacted by the CVVR Clinical Trials Unit about participating in future studies. To find out more information about the Volunteer Registry follow this link: http://cvvr.hms.harvard.edu/registry or to join the Volunteer Registry please call the Clinical Trials Unit at (617)-735-4610 or follow this link:   https://redcap.bidmc.harvard.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=MKTMD7NKLH.

amfAR Gives $2 Million to CVVR Researchers to Study HIV Eradication

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced on July 21st that a CVVR research team has been awarded $2 million to pursue a range of strategies aimed at curing HIV. The team of researchers will be led by Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., and will investigate the ability of combinations of antibodies to specifically kill latently infected cells in the lab, in monkeys, and then in people. The researchers will test two promising antibodies alone and together, in combination with a newly described drug that can "shock" the virus out of latently infected cells and possibly enhance the ability of the antibodies to locate the infected cells.

See full press release from amfAR here 

Does NK Memory Exist? The Reeves Lab Shows It Does

Keith Reeves and colleagues at CVVR published in Nature Immunology this month that robust, durable, antigen-specific natural killer (NK) cell memory can be induced in primates after both infection and vaccination. This data upsets the long held maxim that NK cells are nonspecific parts of the innate immune system, and raises the possibility that NK cells might be harnessed in the development of vaccines for HIV and other pathogens.

Article at Nature Immunology

The Bad Side of CD4 T Cells

CVVR in the News:

"Vaccine-Induced CD4 T Cells Lead to Adverse Effect in a Mouse Model of Infection" - Science Daily, Jan 15, 2015

"A study led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found that a vaccine that elicits only CD4 T cells against a mouse model of a chronic viral infection results in an overwhelming -- and lethal -- inflammatory response. Reported in the January 16, 2015 issue of the journal Science, the new findings provide a cautionary tale for the development of vaccines aimed at eliciting robust CD4 T cell immunity against chronic infections, including HIV." See full article >

New Vaccine Shows Protection in Monkeys

Dan Barouch and colleagues reported in the journal Science on July 17th that an adenovirus-based HIV vaccine demonstrated complete protection in 50% of vaccinated animals against a series of repeated, heterologous, intrarectal SIV challenges that infected all controls. Protective efficacy correlated with the functionality of Env-specific antibody responses. Comparable protection was also observed with a similar Ad/Env vaccine against repeated, heterologous, intrarectal SHIV-SF162P3 challenges. Clinical trials of these vaccine candidates are ongoing, in collaboration with Johnson and Johnson, the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, the International AIDS Vaccine Institute, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.