Leading HIV Researchers to Collaborate on Vaccine Development
DURHAM, NC, and NEW YORK, NY – Two global research
organizations dedicated to designing a vaccine against HIV –
the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and the
Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) – have signed an
agreement to work together to address major biological
questions that have slowed development of a safe, effective and
affordable AIDS vaccine.
"Solving the HIV vaccine puzzle is a scientific challenge
that can only be solved through fundamental and applied
research, collaboration and transparency. The work that will be
done by IAVI, CHAVI and their networks of partners will rapidly
enhance our understanding of HIV and help lay the groundwork
for new vaccine approaches," says Dr. Barton Haynes, CHAVI
director and professor of medicine at Duke University Medical
There are approximately 33 million people around the world
living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Scientists have
tested multiple vaccine candidates in early phase trials, but
only two have been fully tested in efficacy trials and neither
has been found effective in preventing HIV infection or
lowering the viral load in patients who subsequently
encountered HIV and became infected.
"We are committed to the discovery of an effective vaccine,
particularly for regions hardest hit by the epidemic," says Dr.
Wayne Koff, senior vice president of research and development
at IAVI. "We are hoping that the synergy of shared
investigation will yield insight into novel solutions that will
advance AIDS vaccine discovery."
The shared CHAVI/IAVI research mission will focus on four
key areas that will help inform the design of new and improved
• Identification and full-length genetic sequencing of newly
• Clarifying the impact of human genetics on the control of HIV
• Collaborative immunological studies that could shed light on
why some people who are exposed to HIV do not develop
• Development of standardized methods to sample tissues from
mucosal surfaces in the body, where HIV initially establishes
Investigators supported by both organizations are especially
interested in further understanding what happens in the very
earliest post-infection stage of HIV infection, especially
within the body's T cells, a class of white blood cells that
normally fight off foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.
One of the goals of this work will be to identify any genetic
variations linked to the strength of the immune response at the
site of initial infection. CHAVI and IAVI hope that by sharing
samples, reagents, databases and laboratories and by launching
parallel studies, they will be able to speed up discoveries
about this critical phase of the disease.
Each partner to the agreement will contribute unique
resources. For example, CHAVI supports high-throughput
sequencing technology that can reveal tiny mutations in the
ever-changing virus, but which require large numbers of HIV
samples in order to identify variations that are meaningful.
Through its network of clinical research centers and
immunological laboratories around the world, IAVI and its
partners have developed a number of tests to evaluate human
immune responses to HIV and to potential vaccine candidates,
information that can help researchers refine and improve any
candidate that shows promise. By pooling technologies,
protocols and access to samples, the IAVI/CHAVI collaboration
aims to extract maximum information to help accelerate the
development of a safe and effective AIDS vaccine.
"As an African clinical investigator and the leader of the
scientific steering committee that oversees the IAVI-supported
study of acute HIV infection, I am pleased to be collaborating
with IAVI and CHAVI. It is critical to investigate the
influence of genetic diversity of HIV as well as the variety of
human immune responses to HIV among populations that are
hardest hit by the epidemic," said Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu,
assistant director and a Principal Investigator at the Uganda
Virus Research Institute.
"Now, more than ever, we need to understand the complexities
of HIV and the genes that control the human immune response to
it," says Dr. Alan Bernstein, recently appointed as the first
executive director of the Global HIV/AIDS Vaccine Enterprise.
The Enterprise was established to accelerate development of a
safe and effective HIV vaccine through encouraging
collaboration within the HIV vaccine research field. "This new
collaboration holds great promise in accelerating our basic
understanding of HIV and will form the necessary underpinnings
needed to develop a vaccine," Bernstein added.
Established in 2005 by the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases, CHAVI, headquartered at Duke University,
is an international consortium of 70 investigators at 37
institutions working to overcome major roadblocks in HIV
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative is a global
not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the
development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV
vaccines for use throughout the world. Founded in 1996 and
operational in 24 countries, IAVI and its network of
collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates. IAVI's
financial and in-kind supporters include the Alfred P. Sloan
Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the
Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, The John D.
Evans Foundation, The New York Community Trust, the James B.
Pendleton Charitable Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, The
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the Governments of
Canada, Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain,
Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Basque
Autonomous Government as well as the European Union;
multilateral organizations such as The World Bank; corporate
donors including BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.),
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Continental Airlines, Google Inc., Henry
Schein, Inc., Merck & Co., Inc. and Pfizer Inc; leading
AIDS charities such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and
Until There's A Cure Foundation; other private donors such as
The Haas Trusts; and many generous individuals from around the
world. For more information, see www.iavi.org.