- 1,463 supporters
- $462,570 of $462,000
- No days left!
Until There's A Cure Foundation
Verified 501(c)(3) Non-Profit
With your help, we can complete our final experiment before starting FDA-approved Phase I human clinical trials. Donations go to our fiscal sponsor, Until There's A Cure, a leading HIV/AIDS focused 501(c)3 organization, who will then use the money to fund our experiment.
What is Immunity Project?
Immunity Project is a Y Combinator-backed non profit organization. We are proud to be partners with Until There’s A Cure, a registered 501(c)3 organization.
The campaign will fund our final experiment, using human blood, before we start pre-IND meetings with the FDA for our Phase I Clinical trial. All contributions made in excess of our campaign goal will be used to fund our Phase I Clinical trial.
Update 2/11: We are excited to announce that with 10 days left to spare, we have successfully raised enough money to fund our experiment! While we are no longer crowd funding this experiment, we are still raising money for future work for our HIV vaccine candidate. If you'd like to still contribute, you can donate at immunityproject.org. Thank you all for making this happen!
Update 1/31: We have exciting news to share with you courtesy of our friends at BioSurplus: With their help we were able to find a lower cost Flow Cytometer saving us $20,000. We have therefore reduced our campaign goal to $462,000.
Update 1/27: Thank you all for your incredible support! We've received a lot of questions about how our vaccine prototype works. To best answer these questions, we are excited to release our formal scientific white paper that shows our research and approach to date. It is now available here.
"This is certainly a new sort of company for us, but it's the kind of crazy idea we like... I spent a fair amount of time with this group during their application process, and am personally donating both money and blood." --Sam Altman, Partner, Y Combinator
What are we doing?
Like the best comic book heroes, controllers are born with an incredibly rare super power. They won the genetic lottery. Although controllers carry low levels of HIV, the virus is in a dormant state and they do not contract AIDS. Only 1 out of every 300 people who are living with HIV has this incredible power.
The essence of controllers’ immunity is the unique targeting capability contained within their immune systems. Like the finely tuned laser scope on a sniper rifle, the immune systems of controllers have the ability to target the biological markers on the HIV virus that are its achilles heel. When a controller’s immune system attacks these biological markers it forces the virus into a dormant state. Non controllers have sniper rifles, but they are missing this critical targeting ability.
Immunity Project is a team of scientists trained at Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, and MIT based in the San Francisco Bay Area who are developing a revolutionary vaccine platform using an entirely novel approach: to adopt the unique targeting capability inherent in controllers to give everyone that same immunity to the targeted disease. The first vaccine being developed using this platform is a vaccine for HIV. It is designed to turn everyone who receives it into an HIV controller. Immunity Project will offer our HIV vaccine to the world for free.
Over 35 million people are currently living with HIV. Each day an additional 7,000 become infected with the virus. Each day over 4,000 people die from AIDS. - the equivalent to ten 747s falling out of the sky every single day. HIV has taken nearly 30 million lives since 1983.
Current responses to the pandemic are insufficient to match the challenge posed by HIV. For example, for every person who gains access to antiretroviral drugs today, two are newly infected by the virus. This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa where the need for an HIV vaccine is of the utmost urgency.
What is this campaign funding?
Vaccinate humanized mice with (i) an Immunity Project HIV epitope (treatment group) or (ii) tetanus epitope (control group) (Transgenic NOG grafted with an Immunity Project-relevant HLA type). Harvest spleens 14 days post immunization, confirm presentation to killer T cells via Flurospot. Create in-vitro cell culture prep with separated CD4 and CD8 T-Cells wherein the CD4 cells have been inoculated with live HIV virus. Expected result: p24 HIV core antigen lower and CD4 counts greater with HIV-epitope immunized mice.
For the Mouse Experiment
Animals = $40K
Animal handling (dosing, housing, spleen harvest) = $150K
Reagents (including HIV virus, media, antibodies, magnetic sep,
p24 assay, MPLA, CpG, etc) = $100K
FLUOROSPOT plates = $55K
For the Lab
40 HLA Type determinations = $30K
HLA Subtyping determinations = $20K
Flow Cytometer =
$60K $40K (BioSurplus found a less expensive unit)
Larger capacity Clinical centrifuge = $6K
Larger capacity CO2 incubator = $6K
Biosafety cabinet = $8K
Lab Refrigerator = $2K
Lab Freezer = $2K
Rent = $3K
"The Y Combinator-backed project discovered how to mimic natural immunity to HIV" - Fast Company
"But Y Combinator is now doing something it has never done before–backing a young pharmaceutical company, one that is working on a vaccine for HIV." - The Wall Street Journal
"A vaccine for HIV/AIDS has been the holy grail of the medical community for decades, and these guys may have found it." - Venture Beat
"A vaccine for HIV/AIDS has been the holy grail of the medical community for decades, and these guys may have found it." - The Verge
Meet the Team
Dr. Reid Rubsamen - Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Stanford MD and MA in Computer Science. 60+ patents for novel drug delivery technologies. Founder of Aradigm.
Naveen Jain - Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder
Entrepreneur and CEO of Sparkart.
Dr. Charles Herst - Chief Science Officer
UC Berkeley MA in Bacteriology and Northwestern PhD in Tumor Cell Biology.
Dr. Igor Gonda - Inhalation Drug Delivery Advisor
PhD. Physical Chemistry, Leeds University, United Kingdom.
Dr. Tikoes Blankenberg - Laboratory Medicine Advisor
MD from University of California, Los Angeles; Pathology Fellowship at Stanford School of Medicine.
Ian Cinnamon - Director of Strategy
BS from MIT in Cognitive Science. Entrepreneur, Author.
Howie Diamond - Director of Strategy & Marketing
Entrepreneur and Director of Business Development at Sparkart
With your help, we can complete our final experiment before starting FDA-approved Phase I human clinical trials.
Frequently Asked Questions
How effective will the vaccine be at preventing HIV transmission in individuals who are exposed to the virus?
Controllers have detectable levels of HIV virus in their blood. Therefore, we don’t know if we can prevent transmission. If successful, our vaccine may be able to “teach” a healthy immune system of a person living with HIV how to target the virus like a controller. If this turns out to be true, it may be possible to vaccinate people living with HIV (as long as they are well managed on HAART medications and successfully withdraw the medication). This is of course highly speculative, as no clinical testing has yet been done with our candidate vaccine.
How is Immunity Project's vaccine design different from other potential vaccines?
1) It does not contain killed viruses, live viruses, or surrogate viruses.
2) It does not rely on an antibody response. Previous vaccines have been designed to induce neutralizing antibodies in the hope of preventing or aborting infection with HIV.
3) It is designed to not require refrigeration. Our nasal dosage delivery mechanism should significantly decrease distribution challenges in Africa.
Previous vaccine candidates have demonstrated no benefit or have even caused harm. Is this vaccine safe?
The vaccine is being designed to minimize any safety concerns. We do not use any living or non-living organisms in our formulations. Instead, we use the epitopes of HIV, biodegradable microspheres and previously studied TLR-based immune adjuvants. These chemicals are already being used in FDA approved vaccines or in FDA monitored clinical trials. The epitopes on their own are too small to cause any response so they are encapsulated into microspheres (made of the same material as dissolvable sutures). Our vaccine has the potential to be one of the safest vaccine platforms ever developed.
When do you anticipate beginning human trials?
We are crowd funding one additional experiment to show more efficacy in a controlled external environment. After the experiment we are crowd-funding is complete, we will be ready to go to the FDA to plan Phase I clinical trials in the US. As soon as we raise adequate funding, we can begin clinical manufacturing for human use and start Phase I clinical testing.
If the phase I trial in humans is successful, what are the next steps?
If our phase I clinical trial is successful, we will proceed with fundraising for our phase II study. After we have raised the $25 million needed for phase II research, the study will begin. This process will be repeated Phase III and Phase IV studies.
When might the vaccine be brought to market?
This vaccine will be brought to market once we have proven that it meets the highest standards of evaluation and production. The FDA provides guidelines and oversight towards maintaining these standards.
If this vaccine candidate is so promising, why can’t you get enough funds for it from government and foundation grants?
We are pursuing funding from all sources including private donors, and foundations. In the future we will be applying for government grants. Traditional funding sources are slow and we are motivated to move Immunity Project with the utmost speed. Therefore, we are continuously testing new methods of fundraising. We will be open sourcing our fundraising tactics for other non profits and mission driven researchers to use.
Will your vaccine cure AIDS?
Although the vaccine has therapeutic potential, it mostly likely applies only to those particular individuals living with HIV who have normal immune systems – i.e. those successfully managed on HAART medications. The vaccine may prevent AIDS, but it will not cure AIDS. Immune deficiency in the context of HIV infection results from destruction of various parts of the immune system by the HIV virus. In order for an individual to respond to the vaccine, they must have a functioning immune system that is able to launch a response. Because individuals living with AIDS have compromised immune systems, it is unlikely they will benefit from such a vaccination procedure in the near term.
Are pledges tax-deductable?
Yes! You will receive a tax-deductible receipt via email automatically after we receive your pledge.
How do I get in touch with the team?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.