IAVI Calls for New Measures to Accelerate Search for AIDS Vaccine

Today at the XVI International AIDS Conference, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) proposed new scientific and policy initiatives to accelerate AIDS vaccine development, foster capacity building in developing countries, and build and sustain long-term commitment from multiple stakeholders. The initiatives are detailed in IAVIs biennial flagship publication, the AIDS Vaccine Blueprint 2006: Actions to Strengthen Global Research and Development, which provides:

- An assessment of vaccine candidates in the pipeline

- An overview of key scientific obstacles to the discovery and development of a preventive HIV vaccine

- An analysis of financial and political challenges that are impeding the AIDS vaccine search

- Bold new recommendations for overcoming these challenges

The Blueprint calls for a new vaccine development model to move more novel candidates targeting different immune responses into the pipeline and to speed feedback on their immunogenicity. The required components are the expansion of a rational vaccine design effort to solve key scientific questions and translate answers into improved AIDS vaccine design, coordinated and prioritized scientific empiricism to test only those candidates that improve upon the best current products and accelerated clinical trials to yield faster efficacy and safety data.

The AIDS pandemic continues to outpace our efforts at prevention and treatment, damaging societies and undermining social and economic progress in developing countries. We must find better HIV prevention technologies; A vaccine remains the best hope for ending the epidemic, said Seth Berkley, MD, CEO and founder of IAVI. That is why it is imperative that we focus the best tools of science and establish better models for conducting AIDS vaccine research.

The Blueprint highlights the need for a dynamic global research and development (R&D) program that has clear spending targets and an equitable financial burden-sharing formula, with developed and developing governments contributing to AIDS vaccine R&D. In addition, there is a call for increased engagement by the private sector, which holds much of the needed expertise product development, manufacturing and commercialization to create an AIDS vaccine.

Wider involvement of vaccine companies and biotechs is vital history has shown the central role that industry must play in order to make a successful vaccine, said Berkley. Companies must step up their efforts, while governments must put in place incentives that will help them to overcome the scientific and commercial risks they currently face in the AIDS vaccine field.

R&D should be conducted in a variety of epidemiological, political and cultural settings, especially in countries hardest hit by the pandemic, according to the Blueprint.

Developing countries are becoming key partners in AIDS vaccine research our scientists and research institutions, our communities who are eagerly participating in vaccine trials, and our politicians who speak out in favor of a stronger vaccine effort, said Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu, assistant director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute and head of the MRC/UVRI Basic Sciences, at todays launch of the Blueprint. Expanding research capacity in these countries will also set the stage for faster approval and uptake of a vaccine that can save tens of millions of lives in Africa and elsewhere.

The Blueprint stresses the importance of strong and sustained political backing for AIDS vaccine R&D pointing to encouraging signs, including recent endorsements from the G8 heads of state, the United Nations General Assembly, and from global AIDS organizations which recognize the importance of a vaccine in an overall response to the epidemic.

There is an urgent need today for a comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS one that balances the expansion of current prevention programs with targeted investments in new medicines and preventive technologies to reverse the epidemic, said Stephen Lewis, United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, also participating in the IAVI briefing. IAVI and its partners are proposing novel ideas that could get us to an AIDS vaccine many years sooner. The international community should take serious note and strongly back these recommendations.

Every two years, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) issues the AIDS Vaccine Blueprint, which reports on the state of the vaccine field and provides recommendations for accelerating the development of a vaccine.

In addition to providing a series of initiatives to speed AIDS vaccine development, the Blueprint outlines progress that continues to be made in the search for an AIDS vaccine, with more than 30 clinical trials with AIDS vaccine candidates under way in more than 24 countries, and increased political and financial commitments enabling new scientific consortia to begin addressing crucial scientific questions in vaccine development. Despite these positive steps, the report discusses how the science of designing an AIDS vaccine is a major obstacle in its development, and notes the significant financial shortfalls and policy obstacles that are impeding scientific efforts.

Source: International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

 

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