Breaking News
October 19, 2018 - New technology can keep an eye on babies’ movements in the womb
October 19, 2018 - Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Gene sequencing reveals crucial molecular aspects of Trypanosoma brucei
October 19, 2018 - New DNA vaccine strategy protects mice against lethal challenge by multiple H3N2 viruses
October 19, 2018 - Study shows close link between cytokine interleukin-1ß and obesity-promoted colon cancer
October 19, 2018 - Muscle mass plays a critical role in health, shows research
October 19, 2018 - Study finds undiagnosed prediabetes in many infertile men
October 19, 2018 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Nanotherapeutic strategies
October 19, 2018 - Delay in replacing the Pap smear with HPV screening is costing lives
October 19, 2018 - Physicians battle pediatric diseases of ear, nose, throat in Zimbabwe | News Center
October 19, 2018 - Researchers investigate why some cancers affect only young women
October 19, 2018 - Drugmakers funnel millions to lawmakers; a few dozen get $100,000-plus
October 19, 2018 - Unselfish people tend to have more children and receive higher salaries
October 19, 2018 - New findings reveal potential cellular players in tumor microenvironment
October 19, 2018 - Human brain cell transplant offers insights into neurological conditions
October 19, 2018 - Parental education associated with increased family health care spending
October 19, 2018 - New statistical method estimates long- and short-term risk of recurrence of breast cancer in US women
October 19, 2018 - Father’s exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in descendants
October 19, 2018 - Could we prevent Alzheimer’s disease by treating herpes?
October 19, 2018 - Nurse-led care can be more successful in managing gout
October 19, 2018 - Trump administration, pharma exchange verbal volleys on drug-price transparency
October 19, 2018 - Duke researchers find way to detect blood doping in athletes
October 19, 2018 - Many primary care doctors are still prescribing sedative drugs for older adults
October 19, 2018 - Finger length can predict sexuality in women say researchers
October 19, 2018 - Study finds differences in side-effects experienced by male and female OG cancer patients
October 19, 2018 - Few Seniors Who Self-Harm Referred for Mental Health Care
October 19, 2018 - Don’t sweat the sweet stuff
October 19, 2018 - URMC researchers discover new approach to deliver therapeutics to the brain
October 19, 2018 - Middlemen suppliers can increase drug prices and hospital bills, say Johns Hopkins researchers
October 19, 2018 - Bliss funds research to find whether parental touch can help alleviate pain in premature infants
October 19, 2018 - Human neurons employ highly compartmentalized signaling, study shows
October 19, 2018 - Ultromics expands multiple clinical trials for coronary heart disease to the U.S.
October 19, 2018 - $11 million NIH grant for Clemson University helps launch new center for musculoskeletal research
October 19, 2018 - A new approach identified to control Zika virus, dengue fever
October 19, 2018 - Head Blows Without Concussion May Not Damage Brain, Study Claims
October 19, 2018 - US opioid use not declined, despite focus on abuse and awareness of risk
October 19, 2018 - Next-generation RNA sequencing technology sheds new light on human mitochondrial diseases
October 19, 2018 - UT Southwestern biochemist receives 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for innate immunity discovery
October 19, 2018 - The immune system also plays a key role in day-to-day function of healthy organs
October 19, 2018 - New tool may reveal how the brain structure impacts brain activity, human behavior
October 19, 2018 - Trump Administration announces ‘Winning on Reducing Food Waste’ initiative
October 19, 2018 - For-profit nursing home residents more likely to experience health issues caused by substandard care
October 19, 2018 - Incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users, show studies
October 19, 2018 - Conceptual framework proposed to examine role of exercise in multiple sclerosis
October 19, 2018 - Near infrared spectroscopy technique for accurate evaluation of chondral injuries
October 19, 2018 - Scientists receive $5.1 million grant to develop stem cell-based therapy for blinding retinal conditions
October 19, 2018 - Shorter physician encounters associated with antibiotic prescribing
October 19, 2018 - In the Spotlight: Enjoying research and exploring opportunities
October 19, 2018 - Physical activity lowers cardiovascular mortality risk in frail older adults
October 19, 2018 - New imaging tool helps visualize how sound-induced vibrations travel through the ear
October 19, 2018 - Key insights into the application, production of bioactive materials
October 19, 2018 - New urea sorbent could speed up the development of wearable artificial kidney
October 19, 2018 - Intensive care patients’ muscles less able to use fats for energy
October 19, 2018 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Dsuvia for the Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Acute Pain
October 19, 2018 - 48,XXXY syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
October 19, 2018 - Physical exercise improves the elimination of toxic proteins from muscles
October 19, 2018 - How a new system improved wait times for Stanford kidney transplant patients
October 19, 2018 - Nutrition has bigger positive impact on bone mass and strength than exercise
October 19, 2018 - Study finds lack of progress in media representation of nurses over last 20 years
October 19, 2018 - Many people have trouble understanding differences between OCD and OCPD
October 19, 2018 - New family planning app found to be as effective as modern methods
October 19, 2018 - Gastric Banding, Metformin Similar for Improving Glycemia
October 19, 2018 - Physiologist publishes findings on the role of the protein titin in muscle contraction
October 19, 2018 - What digital health companies need to do to succeed
October 19, 2018 - N. Carolina Sees Alarming Spike in Heart Infections Among Opioid Users
October 19, 2018 - Video monitoring of TB therapy works well in urban and rural areas
October 19, 2018 - Determining acid-neutralizing capacity for OTC antacids
October 19, 2018 - Males who spend more time taking care of kids have greater reproductive success
October 18, 2018 - Study to explore bioethics of brain organoids
October 18, 2018 - Environmental conditions may drive development of multiple sclerosis
October 18, 2018 - Genetically modifying zebrafish provides more accurate disease models
October 18, 2018 - Purdue Pharma, Eisai announce positive topline results from Phase 3 study of lemborexant
October 18, 2018 - 5 Strength-Training Mistakes to Avoid
October 18, 2018 - Immune system’s balancing act keeps bowel disease in check
October 18, 2018 - Anti-inflammatory drug effective for treating lymphedema symptoms | News Center
October 18, 2018 - Keeping Your Voice Young
October 18, 2018 - One-time universal screening recommended to tackle increase in hepatitis C
October 18, 2018 - Researchers to develop new stem cell-based strategies for treating vision disorders
October 18, 2018 - Detecting epigenetic signature may help people stay ahead of inflammatory bowel disease
October 18, 2018 - Understanding AFib: Slowing down the dancing heart
Breaking through the HIV vaccine ‘logjam’

Breaking through the HIV vaccine ‘logjam’

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

When biomolecular engineer Phil Berman began his postgraduate work in the 1980s, he had no idea he would spend the rest of his career searching for a way to stop a deadly virus that was then almost entirely known. But around him, as if from nowhere, hundreds of people began to die. He has spent the past three decades looking for an effective vaccine against the AIDS epidemic that would claim more than 20,000 lives in the coastal metropolis alone.

“It was a plague,” Berman said during a recent visit to his lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “People were dying left and right.”

Berman and his team have been searching for a way to make HIV vaccine production faster and more affordable—and, he said, they’ve found it.

“There are dozens of good ideas for vaccines that are sitting on the shelf because there has been no way to produce them quickly and economically,” he said. “We think the technology we developed will break that logjam and allow those brilliant ideas that have been mothballed, basically, because there hasn’t been a way to produce them.”

The new production method takes advantage of technologies to reduce the time, improve the yield and lower the cost of vaccine development. A process that used to take two years now takes about two months, while simultaneously producing yields 100 or even 200 times higher.

A potential vaccine needs specific proteins to trigger an immune system response, Berman said. The proteins are produced by cell lines derived from the ovaries of Chinese hamsters, with many thousands of potential cell lines needing screening to find those that with a high enough yield.

Screening the cell lines manually in the lab used to take months, Berman said, but the team spent most of the past two years customizing a colony-selection robot to do the job in a matter of days.

The team is able to use those protein-rich cell lines to produce the vaccine in vats much smaller than the beer-vat-size fermenters they would otherwise need. The advance means that the type of large-scale manufacturing facility that would have cost $500 million when Berman first began working on the problem could now be made for about $25 million.

“You can make the drug much cheaper, and much more affordable by the people that need it,” Berman said. “It’s huge. It’s a huge improvement.”

Along the way, Berman and graduate student Gabriel Byrne used the gene-editing technology CRISPR to create a cell line that mimics proteins found on the HIV virus, improving the potential protection of the only HIV vaccine to succeed in a human trial.

These days, because of advancements in a regimen of treatments in the 1990s, infection with HIV for most people with access to health care does not mean death, but perpetual treatment. About 1.8 million people a year are infected with HIV, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations.

Berman and a number of researchers worldwide have continued to search for an effective way to immunize the next generation and halt the virus’ spread. Berman himself has chased the project from its early days at Genentech in the late 1980s to its spinoff VaxGen, and, finally, to his lab at UCSC’s Baskin School of Engineering. At VaxGen, he oversaw an early HIV vaccine trial that failed.

The UCSC lab is ready to begin producing two HIV vaccines on a large scale, Berman said. Their improved version of AIDSVAX—the only vaccine to go through clinical trials and demonstrate protective effects—is one, with a second candidate coming from a strain of the virus more commonly found in Southern Africa and India that accounts for a majority of new infections.


Explore further:
Scientists report big improvements in HIV vaccine production

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles