For the holiday season, the gift card retailer Gyft is teaming up with Immunity Project, a group investigating an HIV vaccine, to raise money for research. Gyft will donate to the group 100 percent of the proceeds from gift cards for over 200 retailers, including Target, Gap and Amazon. Buy your holiday gifts from GYFT.com – you might save a life, for no extra money than you were already spending on your loved ones!
Immunity Project is investigating a novel approach to vaccine research, looking to harness the unique power of what are known as HIV controllers. These are the rare HIV-positive people whose immune systems are able to keep the virus in check and who do not progress to AIDS, even without antiretrovirals. The group’s goal with the Gyft partnership is to raise $1 million to advance their research out of recent promising animal studies and into Phase I human trials. Every day, 5,000 people worldwide die of AIDS. New rates of infection are higher than the rates of those people receiving treatment. AIDS is as much of an epidemic today in the US as it was in the 90s.
To develop the vaccine, Immunity Project constructed a machine that can learn algorithms, similar to highly advanced spam filtering software. They have used this machine to identify markers on HIV that can serve as prime targets for an immune response. They have tested chemicals that will synthesize such a response and thus stop the virus. The resulting vaccine is stored in a powder form and administered through a nasal inhaler.
Gyft allows purchasers to avoid the need for printouts or plastic gift cards by streamlining the entire process through mobile devices.
The Gyft/Immunity Project partnership offer begins on World AIDS Day—December 1, 2013—and continues through the end of the year.