ABL News

ABL Awarded Long-Running National Cancer Institute Contract to Continue Groundbreaking Retroviral Research

  • October 3, 2018

October 3, 2018 (Rockville, MD) – ABL, Inc. (ABL), a global contract research and manufacturing service provider, is pleased to announce it was awarded the “Support for Research on Retroviral Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention” contract by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct studies that advance the development of effective AIDS vaccines and other preventive therapeutic modalities.  ABL will provide immunological assays, reagent preparation, virus stock preparation, molecular, and virological assay services to the Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research of the NCI. This successful recompetition is funded for an estimated total of $7,835,232 over five years.

For more than 40 years, ABL has worked with NCI to develop innovative vaccine and therapeutic designs to prevent and treat infection and has developed an extensive array of immunological tools to evaluate the effectiveness of these candidates to induce the body’s immune system to combat disease. Under a contract with the NCI and Dr. Robert Gallo, this team discovered the first human retrovirus, human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, or HTLV-I, from patients with adult T-cell lymphoma and later established the etiological link between HTLV-I and adult T cell leukemia. From here, ABL scientists, working alongside leading NCI investigators, uncovered some of the fundamental mechanisms of how retroviruses evade the body’s immune system, developed the first serological test for HIV-1, and played a major role in linking HIV-1 as the causative agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Under the current contract, ABL’s efforts encompass developing isolation and detection methods to characterize retroviruses and novel virus isolates, and producing viral vectors for vaccine delivery. ABL provides immunological evaluation of promising vaccine candidates, and produces native and recombinant viral proteins and antibodies against antigens of interest. ABL’s experience and ongoing support on this NCI program is evident by the numerous publications co-authored by ABL investigators during the life of this contract. One example is a collaborative study with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and NCI in line with the RV144 clinical trial, where ABL investigators examined immunogenicity and efficacy of systemically administered ALVAC-HIV-1/SIV recombinant vaccines in prime-boost efficacy studies in rhesus macaques. The immunogens used in this study, including proteins and ALVAC, were expressed and expanded at ABL. ABL also contributed to the immunogen formulation; processed all blood samples for plasma, serum and PBMCs; conducted T and B cell assays and virological assays monitoring vaccine efficacy. Under this NCI contract, ABL scientists have evaluated immunogenicity and efficacy of various live vector-based vaccine strategies, including ALVAC, NYVAC , MVA, Adenovirus, among others. ABL will continue to provide top notch services for the new contract.

ABL’s President and CEO, Dr. Thomas VanCott, commented, “ABL’s long-term partnership with NCI through this contract has added to the fundamental knowledge of HIV vaccine design and effectiveness.  Our scientific and technical staff are proud of the strides that have been made in the field of HIV vaccine research, but at the same time, we are cognizant of how much work remains.  We look forward to continuing this vital work and supporting NCI’s goal of a developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine.”

This contract has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN261201800007C and UPIID 7591018C00007.

About ABL

ABL, Inc. is a global biomedical contract research and manufacturing organization dedicated to advancing therapeutics, vaccines and other biologic products. ABL has extensive experience working with diverse organizations including industry, government and academic entities. ABL maintains GMP facilities meeting U.S. and European regulatory standards, providing process and assay development, cGMP manufacturing of bulk drug substance, cGMP aseptic fill and finish of drug product, and QC bioanalytical testing.  Our U.S. and European immunological and molecular laboratories support clients’ preclinical and GCLP clinical sample processing and testing needs.  ABL is a part of the Institut Mérieux, a group of companies dedicated to developing translational science for better patient care globally.

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ABL, Inc.
Andrew A. Arrage
Senior Vice President, Business Development