NEW YORK, Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Abzyme Research Foundation (ARF) held its inaugural #ENDHIV BALL Monday night at the Diamond Horseshoe to launch a $3 million fundraising campaign to support a vaccine they have been incubating for the last two years.
Celebrated Tony and Grammy Winner Billy Porter hosted the event that included the premiere of HOSTAGE, a dance video that features narration by Julianne Moore, choreography by Ryan Heffington and an original score by Lucian Piane. The video, which will be released in early 2016, will support an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to begin human trials.
"It's so rewarding and meaningful to see the next generation taking up the banner in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Porter. "What ARF is working on gives me real hope for a world free of AIDS. It was a true honor to host such a captivating and creatively inspiring evening."
Abzyme Research Foundation has been the lead supporter of the innovative HIV vaccine candidate ABZENTEK, developed by Dr. Sudhir Paul and his team at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Abzentek is the only documented vaccine candidate to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies to divergent strains of HIV in human cell infection assays, and it holds potential for prevention and treatment of HIV infection.
"We have found a unique way of chemically activating the body's immune system to produce large amounts of the protective antibodies to a mostly unchangeable part of HIV," said Dr. Paul. "In addition to conventional antibodies, the vaccine induces potent catalytic antibodies termed abzymes. It works in animals, and we can be initiating human trials within months once we have sufficient funds. It is an honor for me to be working with Abzyme Research Foundation and leading scientists to develop Abzentek, including Drs. Stephanie Planque, Carl Hanson, Richard Massey and others at UTHealth and elsewhere. Together I believe strongly that we are in a position to move our HIV vaccine into human trials."
Last year, ARF secured Dr. Ellen Cooper to lead the vaccine through the FDA process. ARF has since developed a plan to commercially manufacture the vaccine, prepare regulatory submissions to the FDA and initiate a series of human trials in 2016/2017.
The initial trial will determine if vaccinated humans produce antibodies that neutralize diverse strains of HIV across the globe. A low-cost vaccine is the best hope for eradicating HIV world-wide. ARF recognizes that big goals are reached through a series of small steps, and up to 300 million dollars may be needed for worldwide vaccine prevention and treatment trials.
Our non-profit vaccine development model consists of synergistically working with for-profit and governmental entities to establish vaccine efficacy and safety. Covalent Bioscience, our for-profit start-up partner, has committed to the principle of ensuring equitable access to Abzentek for economically disadvantaged segments of society. About 60% of infected humans currently do not have access to HIV therapies because of cost.
Benefit Chairs Included: Alan Rogers, Wesley Vultaggio, Bronson van Wyck, Matthew Ryan, Adam MacLean, Michael Giordano, and Steven Ganeless.
ARF Partners: Greater Than AIDS, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, YouTube, The Palette Fund, The H. van Ameringen Foundation, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
About Abzyme Research Foundation:
ARF was founded to present a new model of HIV research advocacy and funding. We exist solely to advance an innovative therapeutic and prophylactic HIV vaccine candidate into human trials, which in turn is anticipated to validate a broad technology platform. The scientific community understands that a vaccine is essential to eradicating HIV/AIDS, and ARF believes that chemical activation of the body immune defenses is the key to effective vaccination.
Abzentek is the first vaccine candidate emerging from a novel branch of research. Dr. Paul's group has received about $25 million in NIH basic research funding from the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Paul has a distinguished research career in which he published over 160 science journal articles and books. Today ARF is building funds to enable Dr. Paul to translate his powerful concepts into human clinical trials, creating hope for the 35 million HIV+ individuals worldwide looking for a solution to the HIV crisis.
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SOURCE Abzyme Research Foundation