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The GREAT programme encompasses eight organisations with extensive research and product development expertise, Africa-based research infrastructure and community engagement experience to test a promising vaccine candidate in a clinical trial that will enroll individuals at high risk of infection across Africa. Research institutes in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, and IAVI, will work with research teams from the University of Oxford and Imperial College London to advance HIVconsvX, a preventative vaccine designed to provide protective immunity against the various HIV strains present throughout the world.

Professor Tomáš Hanke’s research team at the University of Oxford, together with Dr. Bette Korber at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and support from Professor Sir Andrew McMichael, deciphered a way to uncloak HIV’s chameleon-like qualities and reveal the virus to the immune system’s potent, pathogen obliterating T-cells. Whilst most available vaccines work by inducing antibodies generated by B-cells, according to Professor Hanke, T-cells can target HIV-1 at its weakest point.

The GREAT programme was formed to conduct a multi-site Phase 1 clinical trial for HIVconsvX with the aim of testing the vaccine in trials that will include communities known to be highly vulnerable to infection. It builds on the results of a previous phase 1 trial led by the University of Oxford, in which an earlier generation of a conserved mosaic vaccine candidate proved safe and demonstrated potential for disease prevention. The new generation HIVconsvX can target a broader range of HIV-1’s variants, making it potentially applicable for use across the world. Preparations for future large scale efficacy trials will take place in parallel to the phase 1 trial.

This project is part of the EDCTP2 Programme supported by the European
Union through a 7.1m EUR grant. IAVI and Oxford University provide co-funding and in-kind support.