Lab Dedicated To Developing AIDS Vaccine Set To Open In Brooklyn
The only lab of its kind in the world solely devoted to creating an AIDS vaccine is set to open its doors in Brooklyn later this week. NY1's Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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Just days before its grand opening, the final touches are put on the new AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory at the old Brooklyn Army Terminal.
The lab, created by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, is the first occupant in a nearly 500,000 square foot biotechnology park the city is trying to build at the terminal. The sole purpose of the space: the creation of an HIV vaccine.
The lab, which has a long-held affiliation with SUNY Downstate, will draw in scientists from all over the world.
"Essentially this will be a hub. We actually have this as a part of a network that includes Oxford, the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla that includes a laboratory that we are also expanding in India," explained Michael Goldrich, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the AIDS Vaccine Initiative. "So it's almost like taking a global pandemic and solving it scientifically globally."
Following the failure of a vaccine candidate from Merck last year, scientists are hoping the nearly 40,000 square foot facility, at a cost of about $17 million, will help accelerate the search for an effective one. Sitting right on the water, a ferry will help cart scientists back and forth to work.
Already home to a number of academic research facilities and major pharmaceutical companies, city officials have long argued New York has the potential to become one of the top biotech centers in the world. They see the AIDS vaccine lab as a great first step.
"AIDS has had a devastating effect on the people of New York, and what better way of the city to ensure its future than to solve one of the great health scourges facing the people here in New York," said NYC Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinksy.
While there's been some progress in the past 25 years in the realm of AIDS vaccine science, there are so many challenges that remain and scientists here say the lab was designed to meet those.
"The whole point of the laboratory is to see what we can do to trick our immune systems into believing that HIV is a real pathogen, and then in fact, make a vaccine candidate that will cause those immunologic responses to block infection and control it," said AVDDL director Dr. Timothy Zamb.
Hopefully this new lab will help them get closer to their goal.