Capacity Building Bulletin 2015

Welcome from IAVI's new President & CEO, strengthening capacity, and more...

Strengthening Capacity
WELCOME FROM IAVI'S NEW PRESIDENT & CEO MARK FEINBERG

Mark Feinberg headshot resizedDear Friends,

I am pleased to share IAVI’s latest bulletin, which includes highlights of our scientific, advocacy and policy news and our global capacity-strengthening efforts.

Having worked to advance HIV research, clinical care and policy efforts for more than 30 years – alongside many of you – I now have the privilege of leading IAVI in the next chapter of the organization’s efforts to facilitate and expedite the development of an effective AIDS vaccine.

The recent inclusion of a target to end AIDS by 2030 in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; the new World Health Organization guidelines for HIV treatment and prevention; the US Government's expanded financial commitment and new PEPFAR targets – are all very welcome and compelling testaments to the urgency of ridding the world of AIDS.

IAVI is very fortunate to have many passionate, experienced and expert colleagues and partners, and dedicated and generous donors, to develop and implement impactful cross-sector partnerships and strong collaborations in the countries most impacted by AIDS.

Coupled with our expanding capacity to support development of promising work by our field partners, we are committed to facilitating collaborations that help ensure that the most promising scientific concepts and vaccine candidates move as quickly as possible from discovery to development and beyond. Collectively, we can speed the development and availability of an effective HIV vaccine as an essential tool for the control, and hopefully the elimination, of AIDS.

We greatly value the opportunity to work with you in this exceptionally important work.

 

ON THE ROAD TO A VACCINE: STRENGTHENING CAPACITY IN AFRICA

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As a teenager in Uganda, Enoch Muyanja watched a beloved uncle succumb to AIDS: “I couldn’t do anything to save him. This motivated me to pursue a science career and work at finding a cure to this disease,” he said. Today a father of three, Muyanja is working toward a PhD in immunology at Imperial College London funded through the Vaccine Immunology Science and Technology for Africa (VISTA) program; IAVI previously supported his master’s degree in molecular biology at Makerere University. Muyanja explores the lessons for vaccine design from people who spontaneously control HIV infection without therapy (elite controllers). “Once we have the HIV vaccine, AIDS will be history and it will be satisfying to know that our children and the next generations will not have to experience what we have seen.”Enoch Muyanja, Uganda Virus Research Institute-International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (UVRI-IAVI)

Marianne WEBMarianne Mureithi recently won an IAVI award supporting her research to better characterize the early stages of HIV infection to advance vaccine and treatment design. After pursuing her studies in the UK, US and South Africa, Mureithi returned to her native Kenya in 2011 to teach at the University of Nairobi’s School of Medicine and contribute to research on AIDS vaccine design and development at Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR). “Having lost several relatives and a few close friends to AIDS, I am driven by the hope and dream of a world without AIDS in my lifetime, with a vaccine readily available and routinely administered across Sub-Saharan Africa.”Marianne Mureithi, KAVI-ICR

Mureithi’s project, mentored by Tom Hope of Northwestern University in the US, is part of a broader IAVI effort to support KAVI-ICR as a center of excellence in mucosal sampling; in May, KAVI Research Technician Robert Langat attended mucosal assay training at Northwestern University. IAVI also recently supported KAVI-ICR to conduct a regulatory and ethics capacity-building workshop for the national Pharmacy and Poisons Board, the National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation and various Kenyan ethics committees.

IAVI also supported AVAC to launch a fast-track Good Participatory Practice online training course for IAVI Community Liaison Officers, including a focus on monitoring and evaluation. In addition, IAVI supported training for Ugandan fishing community peer leaders and health teams on research literacy, HIV risk-reduction counseling, basic healthcare, referrals and advocating for health-services access.

To date, IAVI has helped train more than 1,000 clinicians, nurses and counselors in Good Clinical Practices and more than 1,000 scientists and technicians to accredit their labs under the stringent Good Clinical Laboratory Practices; these trainees continue to extend their learnings to others. As Mureithi’s and Muyanja’s projects illustrate, IAVI also funds advanced-degree courses and “investigator-initiated” research projects by junior- and mid-level African investigators. IAVI’s partnered efforts most recently include a focus on early discovery and vaccine design through VISTA – which also leverages our longtime collaboration with the Government of India to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer. With support from USAID, VISTA aims to address gaps in AIDS vaccine research and to ensure that African scientists play an increasing leadership role in AIDS vaccine design and development.

IAVI RAND cover HIRES thumbnail resizedAll these projects illustrate what RAND Corporation characterized in a recent report as IAVI’s “significant contributions” to strengthening East Africa’s health research systems, notably IAVI’s promotion of good practices and scientific excellence; support for basic research; investment in infrastructure; strengthened links among communities, policymakers and researchers; and “train the trainer” efforts.


 
HIGHLIGHTS & HAPPENINGS
  • Scientists from IAVI and the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center at The Scripps Research F1.medium resizedInstitute were among the authors on three important studies describing promising steps toward an HIV vaccine to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies. In a Science study, researchers show that an immunogen called eOD-GT8 60mer appears to “prime” the antibody response necessary to block HIV infection in mouse models, while in a Cell study, another group of scientists elicits the same response in a slightly different mouse model. A concurrent study also in Science shows another engineered envelope-based immunogen triggers neutralizing antibody immune responses in rabbits and monkeys. Extensive coverage included The ScientistBuzzFeed and The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • IAVI and German biopharmaceutical company CureVac announced a new partnership in September to accelerate AIDS-vaccine development using novel immunogens developed by IAVI and partners and delivered via CureVac’s novel messenger RNA technology.
  • In July in Delhi, IAVI gathered Indian and African stakeholders from government, research and civil-society organizations to explore how lessons learned through outreach and research among vulnerable populations in East Africa (e.g., through IAVI’s Protocols B and C and Epidemiology for Vaccine Advancement, Capacity and Science, or EpiVACS, program) can inform and advance HIV research efforts in India. EpiVACS prepares for future HIV vaccine trials and collects epidemiological data on HIV incidence and prevalence to help inform design of an AIDS vaccine appropriate for Africa. The two-day symposium garnered coverage in The Economic TimesFinancial Express and BBC Hindi, among others.
  • More than 50 investigators from IAVI Clinical Research Center and VISTA partners in Africa and India attended working groups in Nairobi in June to establish research priorities for the next five years. The meetings addressed new training and career-development programs, epidemiological and key population studies, and included a special presentation from IAVI Board Chair Alex Coutinho, who lauded the ongoing work in East Africa and discussed its professional and personal significance.
  • IAVI recently announced that MedImmune is the newest member of the Human Vaccines Project, which will help to accelerate the research and development of vaccines and immunotherapies for infectious disease and cancer.
IN THE NEWS

IAVI, through the Vaccine Product Development Center (VxPDC), will support clinical development of an HIV/AIDS prevention approach based on a synthetic antiviral protein, for which a Scripps Florida team led by Michael Farzan received nearly $6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (BuzzFeed News)

Daniel Ochiel, IAVI Director of African Laboratory Programs, urged prioritization of African health research entrepreneurialism ahead of President Obama’s visit to Kenya in July. (The Hill)

Kundai Chinyenze, IAVI Medical Director, Medical Affairs, Nairobi, said: "My dream is that before I die, we will have developed an HIV vaccine." (Daily Nation)

IAVI Chief Scientific Officer Wayne Koff and other experts explore a new wave of antibody-based approaches to combat HIV. (Nature Medicine)

 
IAVI SUPPORTING THE FIELD
  • Research and Development of New Biomedical HIV Prevention Tools for Women and Girls: Combating the Global AIDS Epidemic Through a More Empowered Response in Sub-Saharan Africa IAVI Insights Women and Girls This timely policy brief opens IAVI’s relaunched Insights series. On 28 September, the US Government announced an additional $300 million to drastically reduce HIV infections in girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries, with new PEPFAR targets of 25 percent fewer infections in 15-24-year-olds in 2016 and 40 percent by the end of 2017. “No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS,” said US National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice. And on September 30, the World Health Organization updated its guidelines for antiretroviral treatment to include all people with HIV, potentially helping millions including “many women and girls in Africa not previously covered,” noted The New York Times. IAVI worked with many partners to develop this brief, which provides recommendations for a better alignment of research and development with the needs of women and girls in an effort to widen the array of HIV prevention tools to enhance the health of girls and women, as well as the global response to HIV/AIDS.
  • The September issue of VAX features an interview with Mark Feinberg, IAVI's new President and CEO. He provides unique perspectives on HIV vaccine research, his broad experiences and his vision for the organization. This issue also has a feature on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last month and the WHO's revised guidelines for HIV treatment and prevention, as well as a Primer on Understanding Ebola Vaccine Development.
  • A recent USAID report highlights the landmark Protocols C and G observational studies by IAVI and partners which, aimed at better understanding the AIDS epidemic where it hits hardest and advancing progress toward an AIDS vaccine, have yielded tens of thousands of unique samples, critical information about the course of HIV infection and discovery of many new broadly neutralizing antibodies.

“Protocol C is like a gift that keeps on giving,” said Margaret McCluskey of USAID. “It’s gratifying to see the new information regarding early viral events that keeps emerging from Protocol C, which promises to inform vaccine design in a very real way. The scientific contributions resulting from this work are significant and the teams who have labored over this protocol are a source of great pride for the Agency – and of course, we are forever grateful to the study volunteers.”

  • IAVI congratulates the United Nations on the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. As sdg indicators cover resizedthe UN works to develop an indicator framework to monitor these goals and targets, Policy Cures released a report recommending robust indicators to measure global health research and development. Collaborators included IAVI, The Council on Health Research for Development, Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Medicines for Malaria Venture, PATH and TB Alliance. Click here to support our call to the UN and its member states to include these indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals monitoring framework.
  • The HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group (secretariat AVAC; members IAVI and UNAIDS) found concerning trends in funding for vaccine-related research and development.
  • IAVI Board member Lord Fowler introduced the UNAIDS-Lancet Commission report on defeating AIDS and advancing global health at a June event organized by Stop Aids (UK) and the Parliamentary group on HIV/AIDS.
RESEARCH UPDATE

J&J Mosaic Study Begins at Two IAVI Partner Sites in Africa
A Phase I/IIa Johnson & Johnson-led trial expanded in June to two IAVI Clinical Research Center Partners – the Uganda Virus Research Institute-International AIDS Vaccine Initiative HIV Vaccine Program and Projet San Francisco in Rwanda. The study tests mosaic immunogens, in which the most frequent sequences from various HIV strains are recombined in an effort to elicit broad T-cell responses. The IAVI partner sites account for more than a quarter of the trial's 400 participants. 

Nearly 500 MSM in Rwanda Tested for HIV and Syphilis
An IAVI-supported study at Projet San Francisco of men who have sex with men (MSM) concluded in July with 450 tested for HIV and syphilis. The study aims to estimate the burden of HIV among MSM, describe associated risk factors and provide data for HIV-prevention programs and other services.

FUNDING UPDATE

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In September, members of KOWA (Korean Women against AIDS), including its president, the Honorable Jee-Young You, and founder, Professor Young Sil Han, welcomed IAVI's Jeffrey Safrit, Geoffrey Glick and Keiko Watanabe for a meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul. KOWA renewed its support with a $50,000 grant for 2015 and pledged a longer-term commitment to move “Forward Together.”

RECENT PUBLICATIONS FROM IAVI AND PARTNERS

Model Building and Refinement of a Natively Glycosylated HIV-1 Env Protein by High-Resolution Cryoelectron Microscopy Structure 6 October 2015

An influenza vaccine pill-can we swallow it? Lancet Infect Dis September 2015

Schistosoma mansoni Infection in Ugandan Men Is Associated with Increased Abundance and Function of HIV Target Cells in Blood, but Not the Foreskin: A Cross-sectional Study PLoS Negl Trop Dis 3 September 2015

Presenting native-like HIV-1 envelope trimers on ferritin nanoparticles improves their immunogenicity Retrovirology 26 September 2015

Antibodies to a conformational epitope on gp41 neutralize HIV-1 by destabilizing the Env spike Nat Commun 25 September 2015

Antibodies elicited by yeast glycoproteins recognize HIV-1 virions and potently neutralize virions with high mannose N-glycans Vaccine 22 September 2015

Vaccine-induced SIV-specific CD8+ T-cell responses focused on a single Nef epitope select for escape variants shortly after infection J Virol 26 August 2015

High Transmitter CD4+ T-Cell Count Shortly after the Time of Transmission in a Study of African Serodiscordant Couples PLoS One 20 August 2015

A Phase I Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Study of the Safety and Immunogenicity of Electroporated HIV DNA with or without Interleukin 12 in Prime-Boost Combinations with an Ad35 HIV Vaccine in Healthy HIV-Seronegative African Adults PLoS One 7 August 2015

HIV-1 VACCINES. Priming a broadly neutralizing antibody response to HIV-1 using a germline-targeting immunogen Science 10 July 2015

HIV-1 VACCINES. HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies induced by native-like envelope trimers Science 10 July 2015

Immunogenic Display of Purified Chemically Cross-Linked HIV-1 Spikes J Virol 1 July 2015

Glycan Microheterogeneity at the PGT135 Antibody Recognition Site on HIV-1 gp120 Reveals a Molecular Mechanism for Neutralization Resistance J Virol 1 July 2015

Influences on the design and purification of soluble, recombinant native-like HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimers J Virol 1 July 2015

Structural Repertoire of HIV-1-Neutralizing Antibodies Targeting the CD4 Supersite in 14 Donors Cell 4 June 2015

Immunization for HIV-1 Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies in Human Ig Knockin MiceCell 18 June 2015

Structural Constraints Determine the Glycosylation of HIV-1 Envelope Trimers Cell Rep 16 June 2015

A Phase I Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Study of the Safety and Immunogenicity of an Adjuvanted HIV-1 Gag-Pol-Nef Fusion Protein and Adenovirus 35 Gag-RT-Int-Nef Vaccine in Healthy HIV-Uninfected African Adults PLoS One 11 May 2015

 

IAVI 2014 Annual Report

Read IAVI's 2014 Annual Report.


 
 
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