Foamy Virus transmembrane protein vaccine technology

Viruses that cause some of the world’s most devastating diseases such as influenza, SARS, Ross River Virus, HIV and RSV, all share a unique envelope configuration where the virus envelope proteins are assembled as ‘trimeric spikes’ on the virus surface.

These trimeric spikes are important targets in the development of vaccines, as they form the first point of contact with the immune system.

The ability to present these envelope proteins in their native trimeric state has been a major aim of vaccine research, but the spikes have been difficult to replicate with any consistency or stability in a non-infectious protein form for vaccine production.

Dr Elizabeth Grgacic developed a technology that overcomes this problem by using a novel assembly platform based on part of the non-pathogenic Foamy Virus (FV).

The FVgp47 platform uses the FV transmembrane protein gp47 fused to viral envelope proteins that have a trimeric structure, providing exceptional stability to the timer as well as being able to assemble the spike as a non-infectious particle, similar to the hepatitis B vaccine.

The FVgp47 platform has been tested in early proof-of-concept studies for pandemic influenza virus, demonstrating that chimeric HA1-FV VLPs formed trimers and were able to elicit high titre anti-HA antibody.

More recently, researchers have used the platform to generate a chimeric construct of HIV envelope protein gp120 with the FV TM domain. These constructs are assembled into VLPs or soluble dimers in the absence of the TM anchor domain.


In pilot studies, high titre anti-gp140 antibody was elicited in rabbits immunised with VLPs or soluble trimers plus Alum adjuvant after two 5 ?g doses, and was maintained after four doses.


Trials are currently underway in guinea pigs examining larger doses and alternate adjuvants.

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Serina Cucuzza

Executive General Manager, Commercial Strategy and Industry Partnerships