GR06-00063-08-webIAVIPartnerships between the communities that participate in research and the research institutions that work in their midst are vital to the success of scientific, educational and advocacy activities central to HIV-prevention research. Community-advisory mechanisms—which include community advisory boards (CABs) and similar entities, such as gender advisory boards or advisory committees on men who have sex with men (MSM)—act as a critical bridge between researchers and such communities. 

Advisory bodies can help explain HIV vaccine research and development to members of the communities where clinical research may take place, and ensure that community concerns and other considerations unique to the local context are conveyed to those conducting that research. As one CAB member eloquently expressed it, “The CAB is the eyes of the community watching the research and the ears of the researchers listening to the community."

Community participation helps ensure that clinical research is conducted ethically and sustainably. IAVI and its partners engage communities in HIV vaccine research in accordance with international standards of Good Participatory Practices (GPP). To help its partners adhere to these high standards, IAVI provides training to staff at collaborating research centers. This includes training on GPP evaluation and gender-related issues to promote greater participation in such research.

IAVI’s community-education programs are built around IAVI’s vaccine literacy curriculum. IAVI’s VaxLit Tooklit provides information about HIV vaccine research in terms accessible to nonscientists and so helps potential volunteers make informed decisions about participation in research, buttresses community support for local research efforts and prepares the ground for national advocacy to ensure AIDS vaccine development remains a priority of the host country.

LSR-II-enoch-al-larry-green-bkgd-webIAVIScientific partnerships are essential to the fulfillment of IAVI’s mission: to ensure the development of effective HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Government research institutions, academic laboratories, pharmaceutical and small biotech companies, clinical research centers and contract manufacturing organizations are all among the scientific institutions IAVI works with in its efforts to speed the development of such vaccines. 

Each has a special role to play in that effort. Innovative concepts and novel technologies for HIV vaccine research and development often stem from the work of academic researchers and laboratories. Biotechnology companies, meanwhile, are the chief drivers of innovation in vaccine discovery—developing novel means to deliver vaccine candidates and technologies to screen them for their potential utility. IAVI’s partnerships bridge the gap between these sectors through mechanisms such as the Neutralizing Antibody Consortium.

Yet the discovery of candidates is just the beginning of the vaccine development process. IAVI’s partnerships with pharmaceutical companies bring to HIV vaccine R&D the industry’s vast candidate screening libraries and compounds that boost the immune response to vaccines, known as adjuvants. They also tap the industry’s extensive stores of experience and expertise in the R&D process. Partnerships with contract manufacturing organizations, which can rapidly scale up production of vaccine candidates, afford flexibility in advancing the most promising candidates.

When those candidates are ready to be evaluated in clinical trials, the clinical research expertise of IAVI’s scientific partners in African countries, and their familiarity with the local communities that participate in such studies, are of critical importance. That experience and understanding helps to ensure that the vaccine candidates under development meet the needs of people who live in countries most affected by HIV.

IAVI also partners with government research institutions in a variety of ways. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), for example, has long led efforts to develop HIV vaccines. IAVI and the NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center have had a long-standing Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) focused on the design of vaccines to stimulate broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. The CRADA has led to several key discoveries in the past few years, including identification of new, vulnerable sites on HIV that can now be exploited for vaccine design.

IAVI also works closely with other government research institutions around the world, including India’s Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute, with which it recently established an HIV Vaccine Design Program.

000010 22-cropped-2-webFrederic Courbet/IAVISince its launch in 1996, IAVI has cultivated many close relationships with advocates and policymakers in the countries that have been hit hardest by the HIV pandemic. At the global level, it has similarly forged close ties with political leaders, donors, civil society organizations and other key stakeholders. IAVI also works with organizations and individuals across the global heath, development and human rights fields in its advocacy and policy initiatives. 

IAVI and its partners prioritize advocacy that keeps interventions to end the AIDS pandemic at the top of the international agenda, and collaborates closely with organizations that advocate for comprehensive access to AIDS prevention, treatment and care. IAVI believes that without an HIV vaccine, the fight against AIDS cannot be won. A comprehensive approach to the pandemic that scales up all currently available interventions and includes the delivery of new prevention technologies as they become available will ultimately bring an end to the AIDS pandemic. 

Learn more about IAVI’s advocacy work

Antibody-webThe Scripps Research CenterDevising a vaccine that can elicit effective antibodies against HIV remains one of the greatest challenges of modern science. This is because HIV changes its genetic makeup (mutates) so fast that it continuously evades targeting by the immune response.

Continue Reading