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HIV vaccine could happen thanks to a free, crowdfunded project

A vaccine for HIV is being worked on through a free, crowdfunded project

| Science, Space & Robotics News | Posted: Jan 24, 2014 11:21 pm

A research team completely crowdfunded, is using a machine learning algorithm to examine the cells of rare individuals who are immune to HIV, and are looking to make a vaccine from their efforts.


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The team is known as The Immunity Project, which promises a revolutionary method to reach its goals, vowing to revolutionize how we look at vaccines in general, too. Pharmaceutical companies projects can, and do cost billions of dollars - but this project could solve a very large problem, and is simply crowdfunded.


The Immunity Project is run by researchers out of Harvard, Stanford and MIT, with some big names on the roster: the creators of the Internet's first spam filter, an artificial intelligence and machine learning specialist at Microsoft, and the founder of Flow Pharma and drug delivery system specialist.


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With their brain collective, the team have used a machine learning algorithm which scans the cells of an individual who is rare - an HIV 'controller.' These people are born with a natural immunity to HIV. The Immunity team explains: "Only one out of 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".


There's a prototype of the vaccine already, with the first lab tests performed. The team has a funding goal of above $482,000, with an experiment planned for March. The new targeting system can be used for a multitude of diseases, which makes it even more revolutionary - it won't just help solve the HIV problem, but many other diseases could effectively be maintained, or killed off.


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