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International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and NineSigma Collaborate to Identify New Approaches to Developing AIDS Vaccines


2/21/2012 12:10:01 PM

CLEVELAND, Feb. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A collaboration between NineSigma and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is helping to advance HIV vaccine research by identifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine. A leading worldwide provider of innovation services, NineSigma has connected IAVI with some of the world's leading biomedical researchers, and helped it identify two scientists who will receive a total of $875,000 to develop solutions for generating stable protein complexes for use in AIDS vaccines. The grants were issued by the Innovation Fund, a program of IAVI, which seeks out and underwrites the application of novel technologies to HIV vaccine design.

In October, 2010, IAVI tapped NineSigma to search the globe for highly qualified scientists whose expertise could prove to be of benefit to HIV vaccine design, including those who have not previously worked on AIDS-related research. NineSigma is especially suited to support such efforts. In its searches for new solutions and capabilities, NineSigma blends a unique approach to defining needs/challenges, reaching across traditional boundaries to find solutions, and filtering responses to match clients with the quality technologies and knowledge they require.

"AIDS prevention is one of the greatest medical challenges of the 21st century," said Andy Zynga, CEO, NineSigma. "Open Innovation offers a new way to address and, we hope, solve problems impeding the development of effective HIV vaccines. We are pleased to donate our services to this vital endeavor as part of our NineSigma Gives Back program."

"NineSigma provided a number of promising new approaches to protein stabilization that we had not previously explored," said Wayne Koff, chief scientific officer of IAVI. "We are confident that the researchers they helped identify have much to contribute to the development of an effective AIDS vaccine. Each day, some 7,400 individuals worldwide are newly infected with HIV. IAVI's mission is to ensure the development of a preventive vaccine that will eventually help to end this devastating pandemic."

IAVI collaborates extensively with an established network of talented AIDS researchers, and is always on the lookout for promising ideas and technologies to help it fulfill its mission. In concert with NineSigma, IAVI sought additional approaches to designing candidate vaccines based on stabilized HIV Envelope protein complexes. The HIV Envelope protein is the sole target of neutralizing antibodies against HIV and would ordinarily be an ideal antigen for use in candidate AIDS vaccines. But its structural instability has hampered attempts to use it effectively to that end. Successful stabilization of this large protein complex would represent a dramatic advancement in HIV vaccine design.

Working closely with IAVI scientists, NineSigma recommended, drafted and disseminated a Request for Proposal (RFP), titled "Engineering Stable Proteins," to reach out to a worldwide network of distinguished protein scientists across medical and scientific sub-disciplines. NineSigma attracted 34 proposals from highly qualified scientists in 14 different countries.

Those whose proposals have been chosen for funding or further collaboration include Dr. Rogier Sanders, Academic Medical Center, Medical Microbiology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Dr. Ralf Wagner, University of Regensburg Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Regensburg, Germany.

Dr. Sanders commented, "AIDS continues to cause much devastation, and my hope is that our virus evolution based approach can be applied to help advance the development of a vaccine to end the pandemic."

"We are confident that our library screening strategy can contribute to identifying novel variants of the HIV envelope protein that have characteristics likely to induce the broadly neutralizing antibody responses needed for an effective AIDS vaccine," according to Dr. Wagner.

Additional collaborative projects have been established with scientists in Spain and the United Kingdom.

About NineSigma
NineSigma engages organizations with external innovation resources and enables them to share knowledge to accelerate the innovation cycle, whether they are in the private, public, government or social sectors. Their proprietary and collaborative process has produced billions of dollars in tangible value. Companies such as Kraft, Philips, L'Oreal, Unilever, Denso and Suntory utilize NineSigma's Open Innovation services to solve immediate challenges, fill product pipelines, integrate new knowledge into their organizations, close development gaps, and improve financial performance. NineSigma has the largest open global network of solution providers and an extensive database of existing solutions that spans all industries and technical disciplines. Our team integrates professionals from a variety of fields, including business leaders, innovation consultants and Ph.D.-level scientists. Learn more at www.ninesigma.com or join our LinkedIn group at http://linkd.in/NineSigma.

About The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

IAVI is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Founded in 1996, IAVI works with partners in 25 countries to research, design and develop AIDS vaccine candidates. In addition, IAVI conducts policy analyses and serves as an advocate for the AIDS vaccine field. IAVI supports a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV and AIDS that balances the expansion and strengthening of existing HIV-prevention and treatment programs with targeted investments in the design and development of new tools to prevent HIV. IAVI is dedicated to ensuring that a future AIDS vaccine will be available and accessible to all who need it. IAVI's Innovation Fund supports the application of novel and unconventional technologies to AIDS vaccine design and development, and is partially supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. IAVI relies on the generous donations from governments, private individuals, corporations and foundations to carry out its mission. For more information, see www.iavi.org.

Media Contacts:
Dawn Ringel, Warner Communications dawn@warnerpr.com, (781) 449-8456
Lauren Wesolowski, IAVI Communications lwesolowski@iavi.org, (212) 328-7420

SOURCE NineSigma


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