Absci and Caltech receive grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for HIV vaccine effort

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

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© Getty Images

Related tags Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Vaccination HIV vaccine Hiv

Absci, a leader in AI drug creation, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant will support the joint effort of both establishments to discover affordable HIV therapeutic vaccinations, with the goal of making a significant step forward in the fight against the global HIV and AIDS epidemic. 

The collaboration between Caltech and Absci, led by Dr. Pamela Bjorkman, brings together research capabilities and advanced technological expertise in structural biology and immunology, protein design, synthetic biology, and generative AI.

The teams will work to develop a novel HIV therapy that first exposes and then binds to a highly conserved epitope binding site on HIV-1 to potentially both treat and protect against infection from all strains of the virus. 

More than 40 years after the AIDS pandemic began, there is no vaccine or cure for HIV.

Antiretroviral therapies (ARTs) help many people live longer, healthier lives, but they do not completely eliminate the virus and must be taken for life. Additionally, the cost and inaccessibility of these drugs disproportionately affect millions of people from low-income and marginalized communities.

This new partnership between Caltech and Absci, facilitated by the grant from the Gates Foundation, aims to address this disparity by focusing on the affordability, scalability, and accessibility of HIV therapeutic vaccinations.

Dr. Stephen Mayo, Caltech professor and project co-leader, said: “We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We’re committed to making transformative contributions to society through research and innovation, and we are excited to partner with Absci, who has developed a powerful de novo AI antibody platform that is helping to unlock new therapeutic possibilities.”

“This collaboration with Absci allows us to combine our expertise and work towards a common goal of developing affordable HIV therapeutic vaccinations that can save lives and bring hope to millions." 

Sean McClain, CEO and founder of Absci, added: “We are honored to be partnering with Caltech on this critical project. At Absci, we are driven to transform lives through the power of generative AI and synthetic biology.”

“By joining forces with Dr. Pamela Bjorkman and Dr. Stephen Mayo, and with support from the Gates Foundation, we believe we can make significant strides towards developing affordable HIV therapeutic vaccinations and positively impacting global health." 

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