The Baltimore-based Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine launched its Phase 1 clinical trials of a novel HIV vaccine candidate developed by a research team led by Robert C. Gallo, MD, the Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director of IHV.
Dr. Gallo’s team includes his IHV co-workers George Lewis, PhD and Anthony DeVico, PhD, and Tim Fouts, PhD of Baltimore-based Profectus Biosciences, Inc., a spinoff company from IHV. Enrollment for the clinical trials began October 1, 2015. The candidate immunogen, denoted as the Full-Length Single Chain (FLSC), is designed to elicit strongly protective antibody responses across the spectrum of HIV-1 strains.
“Maryland is one of the top science, bio-health, and research regions in the country and is home to some of the most brilliant minds in the world,” said Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford. “I am especially proud to help announce this first phase of a potential HIV vaccine that is being developed by a talented team at UMD. The Hogan administration will continue to place a priority on supporting the Maryland universities, start-ups, and institutions that are making these groundbreaking discoveries.”
The FLSC is distinguished by its potential ability to induce broad antibody responses to HIV-1. The antibodies induced by the experimental vaccine bind to common HIV regions that are exposed when the virus attaches to target cells, rather than to specific characteristics of the HIV envelope protein that may not be present in all virus strains. This strategy could potentially overcome limitations of previous vaccine candidates that responded to a narrower range of HIV strains.