Bill Gates Gives $6 Million To Scientists Working On New HIV Vaccine

Gates hopes to find a 100 percent effective HIV vaccine by 2030.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida were awarded a $5.8 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last Thursday, to continue their promising work in developing a radical new HIV vaccine.

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Bill Gates pledged his support to developing an HIV vaccine at the World Economic Forum in January, claiming the world could see a vaccine that could lead to “a 95 percent to 100 percent reduction” in new cases by 2030.

In February, the Scripps research group, led by professor of immunology and microbiology Michael Farzan, were able to successfully eliminate the HIV virus from monkeys using a technique discovered by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researcher Philip Johnson in 2009.

As Buzzfeed reports, the new approach technically isn’t even a vaccine:

Johnson figured out how to package antibody genes inside a virus, which then specifically invades muscle cells. Once inside the cells, the viruses park there, turning the muscle cells into factories to produce the desired [HIV] antibodies.

Farzan’s work will go one step further, engineering a gene powerful enough to work on humans.

“It’s taking what is a basic gene therapy technology and using it to address the problem of a HIV vaccine,” Farzan, told Buzzfeed. “We’ve got to think about getting away from the conventional mode of thinking about vaccines, especially when it comes to HIV.”

The new research is enough to excite the scientific community, but Farzan cautions there are still many years before an HIV vaccine is fully developed and ready for the market.