With a rich pool of scientists and medical professionals and a thriving pharmaceutical industry, India has the potential to play a leading role in AIDS vaccine research and development. To tap this potential, IAVI’s India program, headquartered in Delhi, supports research in the country to advance scientific progress in HIV vaccine development. It also supports a range of advocacy, policy and community engagement activities to build widespread social and political support for AIDS vaccine R&D and a comprehensive response to the HIV epidemic in India. IAVI works closely with several research institutions in India, including the Indian Council of Medical Research, the National AIDS Research Institute, the Tuberculosis Research Center and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
Vaccine Design Program
In early 2011, IAVI and the Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute, an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology, established an HIV Vaccine Design Programme in the National Capital Region of New Delhi. The program will primarily address one of the greatest scientific challenges of AIDS vaccine R&D: the design of vaccines to elicit antibodies that can neutralize a broad spectrum of circulating HIV variants. In August 2012, IAVI and THSTI launched the HIV Vaccine Translational Research Laboratory, a new research facility to further the HIV Vaccine Design Programme’s efforts.
Indian Medicinal Chemistry Program
IAVI and DBT in 2007 launched the Indian Medicinal Chemistry Program, a collaboration between IAVI’s scientists and research laboratories in India that is chiefly dedicated to generating and testing novel concepts in AIDS vaccine design. Participating institutions in India include the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. The principal investigators in this program are also members of IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Consortium (NAC).
To enhance researchers’ knowledge of the HIV epidemic in India and to engage select communities in the development of HIV vaccines and other new prevention technologies, India’s Ministry of Health and IAVI have launched a rural research initiative in the state of Maharashtra. The first phase of the initiative includes household surveys on HIV and AIDS. Future phases will include education on the development and need for new HIV-prevention tools.
India-South Africa Collaboration
IAVI is working with the Departments of Science and Technology (DST) in India and South Africa, establishing a partnership for AIDS vaccine design between the two countries. The program is one part of IAVI’s concerted effort to more actively engage emerging economies in AIDS vaccine R&D. Aside from facilitating the establishment of this program, IAVI has agreed to provide technical support to its research efforts and to participate in some of its research activities, which are focused on the development of vaccines against the subtype of HIV—clade C—that predominates in both countries.