University of Nairobi, Kenya, AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) Launches Trial of New Vaccine that Potentially Stops HIV

HIV Vaccine

Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) is set to launch the clinical human trial of a vaccine that has the potential to stop HIV infecting cells, reports Daily Nation.

The Study

The clinical trial code named ‘IAVI Woo1 trial.664gp140.Woo1’ will test the vaccine candidate known as BG505 SOSIP—a molecule cloned to look exactly as the HIV one—on Kenyan volunteers to check for safety and efficacy

The vaccine will apply a ‘block approach’ in stopping HIV from attaching itself onto cells. HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids. The HIV virus attacks the immune system—the CD4 cells, often called T cells, are impacted.

Lead Kenyan investigator Professor Omu Anzala reports, “This is phase one of the first human trial for this vaccine and over the next one-and-a-half years, the trial will seek to answer questions on how safe the vaccine is and how well it can induce the human body to produce antibodies that can neutralize HIV.”

The relevant infrastructure and technology transfer for the trial has been readied for the trial.

The Kenyan Site: University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences’ KAVI Institute of Clinical Research 

Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), established in 1998 as a research unit within the Department of Medical Microbiology, College of Health Sciences, University of Nairobi, was given an initial mission to conduct basic research in epidemiology of HIV and to carry out HIV/AIDS vaccine trials.

Over the years, KAVI experienced tremendous growth as a result of sustained funding, hence the development of human capacity, infrastructure and community mobilization catchment areas. By 2013, KAVI as a research unit had successfully undertaken eight HIV vaccine trials, two drug trials, thirteen epidemiological and basic research projects in addition to pioneering the development of mucosal immune assays. KAVI has also greatly assisted in the development of human capacity within the East African region by training various Ethics boards and clinical research personnel on research ethics, GCP and GCLP.  The Kenyan institution has also been involved in the strengthening of Laboratory management systems of various health institutions to prepare the institutions for accreditation. The Director is professor Omu Anzala.

About BG505 SOSIP 664gp140

The BG505 SOSIP vaccine was developed by the Neutralizing Antibody Center, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, New York. It belongs to a new generation of immunogens molecules that are capable of causing an immune response in the body called nativelike trimers. They induce broadly neutralizing antibodies with capacity to attack the HIV virus in the body upon detection.

About Neutralizing Antibody Center (NAC), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

The sponsor of this study was established in 2002 and is today a leading source of innovation in the study of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) and the design of immunogens to elicit these antibodies through vaccination. The NAC brings together leading investigators—including structural and computational biologists, immunologists, protein chemists, and glycobiologists participating from research sites worldwide.  The NAC, along with collaborators more than 200 HIV-specific bNAbs, have been isolated from volunteers around the world. These discovered are informing novel design of novel HIV vaccine candidates designed to induce bNAbs.  Some investigational prevention products are also in development.  The NAC is headquartered at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California.

NAC Lead Investigators  (USA)

Dennis Burton, scientific director, NAC chair of the Dept. of Immunology and Microbiology, Scripps Research

Bill Schief, director of vaccine design, NAC professor, Dept. of Immunology and Microbiology

Devin Sok, director, antibody discovery and development, IAVI

Andrew Ward, professor, Dept. of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, Scripps Research

Ian Wilson, Hansen Professor of Structural Biology and chairman, Dept. of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, Scripps Research

Rich Wyatt, senior director, viral immunology, NAC

Lead Research/Investigator Kenya

Professor Omu Anzala, University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences’ KAVI Institute of Clinical Research