Gallo collaborates closely with Drs. George Lewis and Anthony DeVico on an IHV vaccine candidate to prevent HIV infection based on induction of Abs of a particular specificity known as CD4i Abs. The vaccine is a complex of gp120 and binding regions of CD4. The idea stems from a need to constrain the flexible gp120, making Abs difficult to reach required sites that stay “hidden” because of their internal location and carbohydrate coverage (carbohydrate shield). The complex also appears to open the CCR5 binding regions of gp120, exposing the site.
Initial funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and later from NHLBI and NCI and major grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have brought the candidate vaccine to the clinical trials stage. Drs. David Pauza and Joseph Bryant have been collaborators on the protection experiments in macaques. Drs. Timothy Fouts and John Eldridge of Profectus Biosciences are also major collaborators.
Gallo’s group is also working on the origin of lymphomas associated with immune deficiencies and have discovered a lymphomagenic strain of a particular sub-strain of the human mycoplasma. This group, in collaboration with Drs. Joseph Bryant and Alfredo Garzino-Demo, of the Institute of Human Virology, and Dr. Arnaldo Caruso of the University of Brescia, Italy are also working to determine the possible role of an HIV protein in enhancing the incidence on lymphomas in HIV infected people.
Certain soluble factors released by both CD4 and CD8 T cells are known to interfere with HIV infection in vitro, and some have correlated with inhibition of infections of people in HIV risk groups and/or diminishing rates of progression to AIDS after infection. In earlier years, Gallo and co-workers discovered a set of beta chemokines that block R5 HIV. This finding led to the discovery that CCR5 is a co-receptor for HIV (1996) because these chemokines are ligands for CCR5. Recent work by Drs. Fiorenza Cocchi, Alfredo Garzino-Demo, Anthony DeVico, Wuyuan Lu and Robert Gallo led to the new identification of CD8 and/or CD4 derived soluble factors which inhibit X4 viruses.
T regulator cells (T regs) are critical to the down regulation of the immune response to self-antigens. Recent in vitro work shows these cells are HIV targets. With the expertise of Drs. Daniel Zagury, Helene Le Baunec, Mohammad Sajadi andRobert Redfield of the IHV Clinical Division, Gallo hopes to determine if HIV infected “elite controllers” harbor latently infected T regs.