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Current Research

Scientific Overview


David D. Ho
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David D. Ho, M.D.
Scientific Director, CEO
Irene Diamond Professor

Basic and Clinical Development of Vaccines and Other Prevention Strategies
against HIV-1

HIV pathogenesis and treatment had been the major areas of study in the past. Since 2001, my laboratory has focused on development of novel vaccines against HIV-1, both in the laboratory and in the clinic. Our first two candidate vaccines were ADVAX, a DNA-based multigenic clade C/B’ DNA-based vaccine, and ADMVA, a multigenic clade C/B’ vaccine utilizing the Modified Vaccinia Ankara virus. These vaccines have completed Phase I clinical testing. In particular, we have explored the delivery of ADVAX using an in vivo electroporation device. We are also developing novel vaccines with improved cellular and humoral immunogenicity by targeting dendritic cells, a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery.

Our group is now actively designing vaccine constructs that attempt to raise neutralizing antibodies directed to the viral envelope glycoproteins. We are also developing vaccine platform technologies that try to target our immunogens to dendritic cells. Specifically, we are utilizing Fc-fusion and flagellin-fusion approaches to deliver the antigen of interest to dendritic cells via activation Fc receptors and TLR5, respectively.

Another strategy to HIV prevention is to test monoclonal antibodies directed to domain-2 of CD4, the primary receptor for HIV on the surface of target cells. We are now examing an antibody known as ibalizumab to assess its ability to protect against SIV in monkeys and HIV in humans. We are also endeavoring to develop variants of ibalizumab that have improved affinity, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy. Furthermore, we are exploring the use of AAV vector to express this monoclonal antibody to block SIV/HIV transmission. Click here for more information on Ho Ibalizumab Development Consortium.

Our group is also making "fusion" antibody constructs that have multiple antibody variable domains, each of which is capable of blocking a step or a site involved in HIV entry. These biologics could be used for both prophylaxis and treatment.