The University of Maryland’s School of Medicine in the US will be awarded $23.4m to support the next phase of research into a HIV/AIDS vaccine.

The INSTITUTE OF HUMAN VIROLOGY (IHV) vaccine programme will receive $16.8m from the Bill & Melinada Gates Foundation, $2.2m from the US Army’s Military HIV Research Programme and further funding from sources including the US National Institutes of Health.

The funding will support the Phase I/II trials of immunogen, which is designed to elicit protective antibody responses across HIV-1 strains.

The grants will also help evaluate immune response and safety in humans, and the optimisation of the prime-boost vaccination strategy.

IHV director Dr Robert Gallo said, “IHV’s unique and promising HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate is designed to bind to the virus at the moment of infection, when many of the different strains of HIV found around the world can be neutralised. We believe this mechanism is a major prerequisite for an effective HIV preventive vaccine.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley added: “We are proud to support the groundbreaking research being developed by Dr Gallo and the entire IHV team – it is only by harnessing the skills, talents and education of our people that we can fight this epidemic.”