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A major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will bolster efforts to fight the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
On Aug. 10, 2023, drug creation company Absci Corporation (ABSI) announced that its collaborative effort with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. Led by Dr. Pamela Bjorkman, the collaboration combines research capabilities and advanced technological expertise in structural biology, protein design, synthetic biology, and generative AI to discover affordable HIV vaccinations. The teams will work to develop a novel HIB therapy that “that first exposes and then binds to a highly conserved epitope binding site on HIV-1 to potentially both treat and protect against infection from all strains of the virus,” as described in a press release by Absci.
While Antiretroviral therapies have helped those with the HIV virus live longer and healthier lives, in more than forty years after the AIDS pandemic began no vaccine or cure exists to completely cure HIV. The cost and inaccessibility of these drugs, which must be taken for life, also mean that treatment is often out of reach from millions of people from low-income and marginalized communities. Absci and Caltech aim to focus on the affordability, scalability, and accessibility of HIV therapeutic vaccinations.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” said Dr. Stephen Mayo,Bren Professor of Biology and Chemistry and Merkin Institute Professor at Caltech and project co-leader. “We’re committed to making transformative contributions to society through research and innovation, and we are excited to partner with Absci, who has developed a powerful de novo AI antibody platform that is helping to unlock new therapeutic possibilities. This collaboration with Absci allows us to combine our expertise and work towards a common goal of developing affordable HIV therapeutic vaccinations that can save lives and bring hope to millions.”
Source: Absci Corporation