IAVI and Oxford University Initiate Africa-Europe Partnership to Develop an AIDS Vaccine

February 8, 2017

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) announces an expanded partnership with Oxford University to develop a broadly effective AIDS vaccine candidate.

Led by Tomáš Hanke at the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, the Globally Relevant AIDS Vaccine Europe-Africa Trials Partnership (GREAT) is a collaboration with Oxford University, IAVI, Imperial College London, the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative Institute for Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) at the University of Nairobi, the Uganda Virus Research Institute-IAVI HIV Vaccine Program (UVRI-IAVI), the Medical Research Council/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) and the Zambia Emory HIV Research Program (ZEHRP).

GREAT includes a series of clinical trials to evaluate a promising vaccine candidate called tHIVconsvX. This candidate is designed to address one of AIDS vaccine science’s primary challenges: HIV’s frequent mutations. Targeting highly “conserved” or less-variable regions of the virus, tHIVconsvX triggers production of specialized immune cells called killer T cells that can destroy HIV-infected cells in the body. A previous Phase I clinical study by Oxford University with support from IAVI at KAVI-ICR in Kenya found an earlier-generation candidate to be safe and immunogenic, and researchers have subsequently adapted it with the aim to expand its breadth of protection.

The GREAT program will evaluate the candidate vaccine in both Europe and Africa. In Africa, the trials will evaluate safety and immunogenicity in young men and women, who account for more than a third of new HIV infections globally, as well as residents of fishing communities along the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, where HIV prevalence can be more than four times higher than in the general population. About two-thirds of all new HIV infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

GREAT is supported by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), with co-funding from IAVI and Oxford University, and builds on extensive research expertise and infrastructure, as well as successful community engagement programs, at KAVI, KWTRP, UVRI and ZEHRP. In parallel to the trials, GREAT will support a range of projects at IAVI-partner clinical research centers to prepare them for participation in future large-scale vaccine efficacy trials.

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IAVI’s contributions to GREAT are made possible by the generous support of our government donors including the American people through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID administers the US foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 120 countries worldwide. The full list of IAVI donors is available here.

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