Research Synthetic Nucleic Acid Platforms to Fight HIV

Funding News Edition: May 17, 2023
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Apply for a grant to advance synthetic nucleic acid platforms for HIV prevention, treatment, and cure through the new NIAID notice of funding opportunity (NOFO): Synthetic Nucleic Acid Platforms for HIV-1 (SNAPH) (R61/R33, Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

Scientific Synopsis

In your application, describe how you will advance synthetic nucleic acid platforms (SNAP) for the rapid development and iterative testing of active and passive immunization strategies for HIV prevention, treatment, and cure. This includes testing of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines and the delivery of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAb) and bNAb derivatives.

Propose research to apply newly developed immunological tools and expand understanding of the immune response to vaccination at the molecular level. How will you overcome existing challenges to the quality and durability of T-cell and antibody responses to HIV as well as the ability of SNAP to deliver physiologically relevant titers of bNAbs for sustained periods? Describe how you will evaluate the extent to which DNA/RNA technologies can:

  • Be applied to various types of HIV vaccine immunogens and complex regimens.
  • Elicit stronger, broader, and longer-lasting HIV-specific immune responses.
  • Be used in combination with other platforms.
  • Support the delivery of bNAbs or bNAb derivatives for the prevention, treatment, or cure of HIV.

To strengthen the likelihood of successful clinical translation, you must include a translational partner or partners as a significant collaborator in your application. Find further details in the Research Objectives header in Section I of the NOFO, including definitions for translational partner and collaboration, examples of research projects that would be in scope, and nonresponsive scientific areas.

Note that while clinical trials are not allowed for this NOFO, NIAID encourages you to use samples from clinical trials supported by other funding mechanisms. Animal research is allowed, including the use of small animal models and nonhuman primates with HIV, SIV, or SHIV challenges.

Award and Application Specifics

Due to the high-risk, high-impact nature of the research, the SNAPH NOFO uses the R61/R33 phased innovation grant award mechanism:

  • R61 phase. NIAID will provide support for up to 3 years for hypothesis-driven design, optimization, and characterization of SNAP for the delivery of synthetic nucleic acid immunogens, bNAbs, and/or bNAb derivatives.
  • Optional R33 phase. NIAID may choose to provide up to 2 years of subsequent support for additional activities as appropriate. For example, NIAID may support work to test your SNAP delivery approach in relevant animal models and evaluate product potential. NIAID will review and negotiate R33 phase milestones before award.

This opportunity has a single due date; be sure to apply by August 2, 2023, at 5 p.m. local time of the applicant organization. Submit your optional Letter of Intent 30 days before you apply.

Well before you apply, we encourage you to reach out to the following NIAID scientific/research program contacts to discuss your project plans:

  • For immunology and design of prophylactic immunomodulators, antibodies, and immunogens: Dr. Angela Malaspina., or 240-292-6130.
  • For immunology and design of therapeutic immunomodulators, antibodies, and immunogens: Dr. Steve Smiley, or 240-627-3071.
  • For therapeutic interventions in animal studies: Dr. Brigitte Sanders, or 240-627-3209.

Direct your peer review or grants management questions to the relevant contacts in Section VII of the NOFO.

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