Global Fellows Research Academy
Nigel Aminake Makoah
Institution: National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Country of work: South Africa
What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?
Developing a strategy to completely eradicate HIV infected cells from the body represents a big challenge in the fight against the disease. Nonetheless, strategies currently being investigated to control HIV reservoirs may lead to a functional cure of the disease. I am motivated to contribute towards HIV cure for two reasons: 1-to alleviate the public health burden caused by HIV infection and, 2- to reduce the economic burden due to costs of providing ART to infected people, especially for African countries where most infected individuals live.
What is your current area of research?
Our laboratory undertakes cutting edge research with the aim of developing an HIV vaccine. I am responsible for the design and production of HIV monomeric and trimeric envelope proteins that are reagents for the isolation of broadly neutralizing antibodies from HIV infected donors and for epitope mapping. These proteins could also be used as potential vaccine candidates. I also seek to understand the interaction between monoclonal antibodies and the HIV envelope using X-ray crystallography, these data could be useful for vaccine design. Additionally, I am involved in a project aiming at using Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) vectors to express broadly neutralizing antibodies for passive immunotherapy. This approach allows a sustained and continuous expression of antibodies after a single administration of the vector.