The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Cow antibodies that give the finger to HIV transmission

Purcell Group

Prophylactic HIV vaccines aim to elicit broad neutralising antibody (bNAb) at the sexual mucosa to block virus transmission. We were the first to find and publish that vaccination of dairy cows with HIV Envgp140 trimer vaccines can elicit broad and potent bNAb responses in vast scale in the colostrum milk. This was patented for use as a passive antibody-microbicide prevention against HIV-transmission and has been scaled up and developed for clinical testing with a commercial partner. This project will further characterise monoclonal antibody bNAbs we have isolated from vaccinated cows, and define the genetic evolution of the immunoglobulin genes during the immune response needed to form an effective protective antibody.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Damian Purcell

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Behnaz Heydarchi

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Purcell Group

[email protected]

3 vacancies

Host Pathogens Interactions
Viral Infectious Diseases
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Global Health
Indigenous Health
Translational and Clinical Research

Professor Damian Purcell’s group investigates the HIV-1 and HTLV-1 human retroviruses that cause AIDS, leukaemia and inflammatory pathogenesis respectively. We study their genetic structure and gene expression with a focus on defining the mechanisms that control viral persistence and pathogenesis. We examine the molecular interplay of viral and host factors during viral infection and the innate and adaptive immune responses to viral infection. We use these molecular insights to develop new antiviral and curative therapeutics, preventive prophylactic vaccines and passive antibody microbicides and therapeutics. Some of these patented discoveries have been commercialised and we are assisting with clinical trials.

Purcell Group Current Projects