Prof. Tomas Hanke is a Professor of Immunology at the University of Oxford and a Distinguished Immunology Professor at Kumamoto University in Japan. His research aims to develop a universal HIV-1 vaccine, which targets most global virus variants including escape mutants. He explores novel vaccine modalities and optimizes their immunogenicity in heterelogous prime-boost regimens in mice and macaques. He co-ordinates a clinical program assessing candidate HIV vaccines in humans in UK, Europe and Africa.
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The proposed work under Advancing HIV Therapeutic Vaccine Science (U01) will work cooperatively with academic institutions, industry and NIAID to conduct a coordinated research program to test a first-in-human trial of candidate T-cell vaccines tHIVconsvX. I am delighted to participate as an investigator on this proposal.
My research aims to develop a universal HIV-1 vaccine that targets most global virus variants including escape mutants. This is achieved by focusing the vaccine-elicited responses on the most conserved regions of the HIV-1 proteins, which are common to most global variants and typically decrease the virus replicative fitness if mutated. Global coverage is enhanced by a bivalent mosaic design. Overall, I strive to maintain a balance between basic and translational research. I oversee a busy pre-clinical programme encompassing HIV-1 epitope discovery and dynamics using mass spectrometry and T-cell assays, studies on immunodominance, depth (number of variants) of epitope recognition, and the importance of perfect vaccine-virus epitope matching for effective effector functions. I also explore novel vaccine modalities and optimize their immunogenicity in heterelogous prime-boost regimens in mice and macaques. I co-ordinate a clinical programme assessing candidate HIV-1 vaccines in humans in UK, Europe and Africa.
I look forward to working with PI Dr. Goonetilleke, U01 colleagues and NIAID to conduct the proposed clinical trial in parallel with my other clinical program, advancing this vaccine strategy to characterize the elicited responses and their protective potential, with the ultimate goal to discover HIV prevention and cure.