Vir Biotechnology begins antibody research focused on HIV, malaria

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

January 14, 2022 -- Vir Biotechnology has expanded its partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance innovative platform technologies in the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies that provide a vaccinal effect for the treatment of HIV and the prevention of malaria.

The new initiative includes a clinical proof-of-concept trial designed to evaluate the potential impact of broadly neutralizing antibodies engineered to inhibit viral replication and spread in people infected with HIV, as well as their ability to confer a vaccinelike effect that could be applicable to durable suppression of HIV without the use of antiretroviral therapy.

Additional preclinical research is planned to assess the potential role of this technology in preventing malaria. The vaccinal antibody concept is currently being applied across Vir's pipeline of potential SARS-CoV-2, chronic hepatitis B virus, and influenza A product candidates, and will be used to address other infectious diseases with high impact in low- and middle-income countries, according to Vir.

The Gates Foundation has committed a $40 million equity investment and a $10 million grant. The program-related equity investment is being made through the foundation's $2.5 billion strategic investment fund. Financial returns generated by the fund are reinvested into Gates Foundation philanthropic programs.

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