European HIV Vaccine Alliance

Funding: European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme
Duration: January 2016 – December 2020

The European HIV Vaccine Alliance (EHVA) – funded by the European Union’s H2020 Program – aims at discovering and evaluating new prophylactic and therapeutic HIV-1 vaccine candidates. The program is coordinated by Prof. Yves Lévy (INSERM, Paris) and Prof. Giuseppe Pantaleo (CHUV, Lausanne) and comprises 39 partners from 15 countries.

Within the alliance, the University of Regensburg coordinates the Vaccine-Discovery-  Workpackage for novel antigen candidates, delivery systems and formulations.

The antigens will be based on HIV’s envelope protein (Env, see picture) that is the target for protective antibody responses. A novel generation of Env-variants characterized by improved trimer-stability, immuno-focussing towards target sites of broadly neutralizing antibodies, and immuno-silencing of non-neutralizing sites will be generated by rational design and evolutionary approaches (e.g. selection from libraries of Env-variants). The generated variants will be compared with the best Env-antigen currently available (BG505.SOSIP) by means of biochemical, biophysical and immunological tests. Moreover, novel delivery systems, including new types of virus-like particles (VLPs), and formulations will be assessed for their modulatory capacity on the strength, breadth and quality of the immune responses elicited by the novel Env antigens.

In addition, our team will develop a framework to design novel DNA-vaccine vectors which elicit high-quality immune responses matching pre-defined criteria that can for instance be derived from the knowledge about correlates of protection. The new DNA vectors, as well as novel approaches based on RNA delivery, novel poxviruses or VSV-based viruses will be benchmarked against the PTVDC-DNA-vaccine that has previously been developed and clinically tested by our group.

The best-in-class antigens and delivery systems will then be assessed in non-human primate studies for safety and immunogenicity to identify the candidates that will be furthered into clinical development.

Finally, our team also closely cooperates with the partners in the immune profiling platform, the data management/integration/down-selection platform, and the clinical trials platform.