THSTI, University of Oslo and IAVI come together under the GLOBVAC program to develop bNAbs for HIV prevention

16 Jul 2020

THSTI with the University of Oslo (UiO) and International AIDS Vaccine Institute (IAVI) announced an award from the Research Council of Norway through the GLOBVAC (Global Health Vaccination and Research) program for the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) as HIV prevention products on 1st July 2019. Teams from three continents will work to engineer and optimize antibodies to extend their half-life, an improvement designed to increase the duration of antibody activity and potentially lead to longer intervals between protective doses.

Broadly neutralizing antibodies or bNAbs, being a low-cost HIV prevention approach are affordable for people from low and middle income countries (LMICs) like India. This development is particularly relevant for female sex workers (FSWs), a high-risk group when it comes to HIV infection. 'Existing HIV prevention methods, such as daily HIV prevention pills or condoms, can be stigmatizing or difficult for FSWs to negotiate in sexual encounters. Infection-blocking antibodies have several advantages: they can be given discreetly via subcutaneous injection and at the same medical visit as injections of long-acting contraceptives, a widely used method of birth control among AGYW in under-resourced settings' - notes the press release from IAVI.

The press release also quoted Prof. Gagandeep Kang, the current Executive Director, THSTI on the significance of this partnership for HIV prevention in India in particular and for neglected diseases and people in general. "This collaboration, supported by GLOBVAC, will not only help THSTI develop and diffuse affordable technology in improving bNAb half-life, breadth, and potency, but will also provide an avenue to promote application of these technologies to other disease indications that are also of public health importance to India and to the most neglected people and diseases globally", she said.

See the complete press release here-