News: Big Impact, Innovation, SA

Patent application for HIV vaccine

A DNA-based vaccine for HIV and Hepatitis C is the subject of a new patent application by University of Adelaide (UoA) researcher, Prof. Eric Gowans. His new system causes a small amount of tissue inflammation at the injection site, which stimulates antigen presenting cells (dendritic cells) in the skin to become active. This generates an immune response robust enough for the vaccination to be successful.

The research team used live-animal imaging in the AMMRF at UoA to track cells specifically labelled with a luminescent dye. This enabled visualisation of the cellular processes, which in turn, allowed optimisation of the vaccine system for maximal immunity. The vaccine is delivered directly to the skin by using a specialised needle that penetrates just 1.5 mm below the surface where there is a high concentration of dendritic cells.

“There’s been a lot of work done in the past to target the dendritic cells, but this has never been effective until now,â€? Prof. Gowans said.

The research has reached the pre-clinical phase, with a patient study due next year. Prof. Gowans is now in discussions with various companies to find the right commercial partner to help take the project to the next stage.