Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a new method of improving the efficacy of vaccines in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by activating Ras. This method can be used to develop more efficacious vaccine compositions by activating Ras before, during, or after vaccination. Additionally, the researchers discovered that modulation of the Ras pathways could be a predictive biomarker of protection against HIV. This novel method has been shown to effectively stimulate the Ras pathway and to improve vaccine protection from Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), a HIV animal model, in chimpanzees.
More than 30 million people are currently infected with HIV worldwide and it is estimated to increase by as much as 3 million new infections yearly. Although effective anti-retroviral therapies exist, millions still succumb to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) every year, underscoring the need to develop new therapeutics to prevent the spread of this disease. Agents that have the potential to modulate immune response can improve the efficacy of vaccine candidates. Ras, a central regulatory molecule that can be easily activated, is a potential target because it affects both the innate and adaptive immune responses.
The National Cancer Institute, Vaccine Branch, is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate or commercialize this method of improving HIV vaccine efficacy by activating the Ras pathway.