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Vir Biotechnology Launches New Antibody Research Initiative Aimed at a Functional Cure for HIV and Prevention of Malaria

Excerpt from the Press Release:

– New commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports the development of Vir’s novel “vaccinal antibody” technology as another important step in the fight to address global infectious diseases –

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (Nasdaq: VIR) today announced an expansion of its partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to include the advancement of innovative platform technologies in the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies designed to provide a “vaccinal effect” for the treatment of HIV and prevention of malaria. This novel program combines Vir’s extensive immunologic and virologic expertise with the Gates Foundation’s long-standing global health leadership to address two of the world’s most challenging infectious diseases.

“Vir’s partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been a formative and essential part of our company history beginning with our T-cell vaccine program targeting HIV and tuberculosis. This expanded collaboration into a second platform technology supports our shared goal of developing innovative solutions for prevention and treatment of global infectious diseases. We look forward to applying the lessons learned thus far in COVID-19, chronic hepatitis B virus infection and influenza to advance our efforts toward curing HIV and preventing malaria,” said George Scangos, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Vir Biotechnology.

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 vaccine-like effect that could be applicable to durable antiretroviral therapy (ART)-free suppression of HIV. 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 (HBV), and influenza A product candidates, and will now be used to address other infectious diseases with high impact in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

“Even though HIV has gone from being a near-term fatal disease to a chronic condition for those who have access to effective antiviral therapies, there remains a significant unmet need for new advances that could enable durable antiretroviral-free suppression of HIV. The foundation is pleased to support the development of this novel vaccinal antibody technology that has the potential to result in such suppression and is committed to advancing access to this cutting-edge innovation globally,” said Mike McCune, M.D., Ph.D., head of the HIV Frontiers Program at the Gates Foundation.

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