School of medicine

School Notes: School of Medicine
November/December 2023

Nancy J. Brown |

Grant supports development of mRNA-based vaccines

Cancer vaccines utilizing mRNA vaccine technology have such potential that ARPA-H, a newly established White House–originated program, has made it the focus of its first-ever grant, announced August 28. The total grant is $25 million over three years, to be split among teams at Emory University, Yale School of Medicine, and the University of Georgia. Scientists at the three institutions are working together, striving to harness the natural immune system for development of personalized therapeutic vaccines against cancer and emerging infections, along the lines of how the mRNA vaccine targets SARS-CoV-2. The groundbreaking research will be led by principal investigator Philip Santangelo, professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, and co–principal investigator Richard Edelson, Anthony N. Brady Professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. “The ARPA-H grant is a vote of confidence that our collective mission may be achievable,” Edelson says.

Drug offers new treatment hope for multidrug-resistant HIV

Onyema Ogbuagu, associate professor of medicine, gets excited about finding new ways to treat HIV—and he is very enthusiastic about lenacapavir, an injection recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for multidrug-resistant HIV after clinical trials for which he was the principal investigator. A new class of HIV treatment has been born: long-acting HIV medications that target the capsid of HIV-1, which is a conical structure that harbors its genome. “Lenacapavir is one of those agents, and it is currently the longest-acting agent approved [by the FDA] for HIV treatment,” Ogbuagu said. Lenacapavir got FDA approval based on the data in Ogbuagu’s study, which has now been published in The Lancet HIV.  

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