T Cell Platform

Diverse pathogens often need tailored immune responses. And certain pathogens – such as HIV, the virus responsible for the AIDS epidemic – are exceptionally good at avoiding both our innate immune responses and those elicited by vaccines studied to-date.

Nearly four decades since its emergence, HIV continues to be a formidable global health challenge. Given its adaptability, in order to eradicate the virus, we need a novel approach. Vir is using a human cytomegalovirus vector (HCMV) approach to target HIV. Human cytomegalovirus is a ubiquitous herpes virus estimated to have infected 50%-99% of people worldwide. HCMV is the most potent inducer of an immune response of any known human virus eliciting a potent T cell response which includes robust effector memory T cells that can circulate throughout the body. HCMV causes a persistent infection which facilitates ongoing immune stimulation to maintain a durable T cell response. HCMV-based vaccines have the potential to generate T cells that identify HIV infected cells in ways that the virus does not know how to subvert.

In addition, through “immune programming” we can tailor HCMV to induce different responses tailored to specific pathogens potentially making it applicable as a platform to areas beyond infectious disease, such as cancer.