Welcome from IAVI Board Members Francine Ntoumi and Marijke Wijnroks, supporting the field and more...
In recent weeks, the HIV ring results and the Zika crisis have highlighted the continuing, urgent need for global health tools and programs that prioritize the needs of women.
At IAVI, we mark International Women’s Day by renewing our commitment to help bring the world an AIDS vaccine.
HIV/AIDS takes a disproportionate toll on women, for a complex mix of biological, social and economic reasons. AIDS is the world’s leading cause of death among women of reproductive age, driven by the epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa, where women account for almost 60 percent of people living with HIV. Deep-rooted gender inequities – child marriage, economic dependence on men, limited power to negotiate condom use, widespread gender-based violence – feed this imbalance, which has enormous human, societal and economic consequences.
A vaccine is an essential component of a world without AIDS. Delivered confidentially, without needing partner consent and before girls become sexually active, it will be a powerful, equalizing force.
As IAVI Board members, we are proud to work alongside many passionate researchers, advocates, clinicians and volunteers, all dedicated to surmounting unprecedented scientific challenges to bring the world an AIDS vaccine. In the process, our field is already opening avenues to healthcare and education that help empower women. We are encouraged to see more and more women engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS – and we look forward to seeing more and more women driving the effort to find a vaccine.
Click here for the thoughts of many partners on what an AIDS vaccine will mean for women.
An IAVI study published in PLoS Pathogens suggests that both viral and host factors may be critical for the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV, and that one “supersite” on HIV’s envelope protein may be a particularly favorable target for vaccine design. This research utilized samples from 439 newly infected volunteers in Protocol C, a large observational study by IAVI and partners in Eastern and South Africa supported by USAID. Click here to read the press release.
In January, as part of the VISTA initiative, staff from IAVI’s Human Immunology Laboratory at Imperial College London taught staff at IAVI Clinical Research Center partner Projet San Francisco in Rwanda how to set up and maintain a new flow cytometer, acquire samples and analyze data. Also in January, the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative-Institute of Clinical Research welcomed Indian scientists from the National AIDS Research Institute in Pune, the YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, and the National Institute for Research in TB in Chennai, to Nairobi for training in mucosal sampling and analysis. And in February, IAVI and partner researchers trained 13 African scientists in manuscript writing in Nairobi, sharing knowledge gained last year at a Mentoring-of-Mentors Program under the International Traineeships in AIDS Prevention Studies program.
- IAVI, AVAC and Avenir Health, supported by USAID, published new modeling data showing that adding a vaccine to the comprehensive HIV/AIDS response is essential to conclusively ending the epidemic. The analysis published in PLOS ONE shows that, even with a massive scale-up of existing treatment and prevention options, there will still be hundreds of thousands of new HIV infections every year and for decades to come in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A 70-percent-efficacious AIDS vaccine with strong uptake could reduce new annual HIV infections in LMICs by 44 percent in its first 10 years and by 65 percent in 25 years, ultimately averting tens of millions of infections and saving millions of lives. News of this important new dataset was shared by AIDSMap, Science Speaks and GHTC, and IAVI continues to share the data with partners and stakeholders in the field. Click here to read the press release.
- IAVI supported Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council in developing guidance around domestic financing for the Kenya HIV and AIDS Research agenda for greater country ownership, including an analysis of the HIV R&D financing landscape and domestic financing options to reduce/accommodate reductions of international funding from 95 percent to 50 percent, outlined in this policy brief.
- In December in Washington, DC, IAVI President and CEO Mark Feinberg discussed the partnerships that mobilized the Ebola vaccine effort on a panel marking the launch of this year’s G-FINDER report on public, philanthropic and industry funding for R&D for neglected diseases. The panel, sponsored by Policy Cures GHTC, also featured Nick Chapman, Director of Research, Policy Cures; Mark Suzman, President, Global Policy, Advocacy and Country Programs, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Swati Gupta, Associate Director, Head, Early Epidemiology Vaccines Unit, Merck; and Wendy Taylor, Director, Center for Accelerating Innovation & Impact, USAID.
- In February, Mark Feinberg joined an Ottawa panel hosted by the Interagency Coalition on Aids and Development (ICAD) highlighting Canada's leadership in HIV vaccine R&D and innovative health technologies to improve the health of women and girls to end AIDS. Other speakers included ICAD Board Member Judith Odhiambo; Stephen Lewis, Co-Founder and Board Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation; the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health; and Karina Gould, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development.
- To mark India’s National Science Day, IAVI, advocacy partner YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, and the MAC AIDS Fund sponsored a speaking competition on “the role of a vaccine in altering the course of HIV.” More than 100 students from 20 Chennai-area colleges participated; seven finalists appearing before the judges and more than 250 students and professors. Congratulations to David Jebasingh (pictured at right) of Madras Christian College on a passionately delivered winning speech.
IAVI announced participation in two consortia funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 health program to develop preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccines. The European HIV Vaccine Alliance (EHVA) convenes 39 industrial and academic partners from Europe, the US and Africa; the European AIDS Vaccine Initiative unites 22 public organizations and biotech companies across Europe, Australia, Canada and the US. IAVI will provide product development support for both consortia through its Human Immunology Laboratory at Imperial College London and will coordinate EHVA’s communications activities through IAVI’s Amsterdam office.
IAVI obtained continued funding from the Dutch Government, a longtime partner (16 million Euros, approximately US$18 million, over five years), a longtime partner. Click here to read the announcement.
The Hearst Foundation provided $150,000 to support pre-clinical testing of promising replicating viral vectors to deliver immunogens.
IAVI welcomed two leading experts to its vaccine design and development teams: Senior Advisor Philip R. Johnson is helping with forward planning of vaccine discovery efforts and exploration of innovative approaches to evaluate platform technologies to accelerate progress in HIV vaccine R&D. Robert Lemon, Executive Director of the Vaccine Product Development Center at IAVI, is leading teams that help Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery grantees, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to move their promising vaccine candidates into clinical testing. Read the announcement.
In the World Health Summit 2015 Yearbook (see pg. 88), Mark Feinberg discusses how new models of collaboration can unleash the innovation needed to improve the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS while enhancing preparation for future epidemics.
Cryo-EM structure of a native, fully glycosylated, cleaved HIV-1 envelope trimer, Science – 4 Mar. 2016
Mucosal Humoral Immune Response to SIVmac239nef Vaccination and Vaginal Challenge, J Immunol. – 10 Feb. 2016
Assessment of the Safety and Immunogenicity of 2 Novel Vaccine Platforms for HIV-1 Prevention: A Randomized Trial, Ann Intern Med. – 2 Feb. 2016
Mechanisms of escape from the PGT128 family of anti-HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies, Retrovirology – 2 Feb. 2016
Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Responses in a Large Longitudinal Sub-Saharan HIV Primary Infection Cohort, PLoS Pathog. – 14 Jan. 2016
Conformational Epitope-Specific Broadly Neutralizing Plasma Antibodies Obtained from an HIV-1 Clade C Infected Elite Neutralizer Mediate Autologous Virus Escape through Mutations in V1 Loop, J Virol. – 13 Jan. 2016
Association between injectable progestin-only contraceptives and HIV acquisition and HIV target cell frequency in the female genital tract in South African women: a prospective cohort study, Lancet Infect. Dis. – 23 Dec. 2015
Increased valency of conserved-mosaic vaccines enhances the breadth and depth of epitope recognition, Mol. Ther. – 19 Nov. 2015
IAVI Report features an interview with Nobel laureate and HIV co-discoverer Françoise Barré-Sinoussi on her life’s work fighting AIDS; examines collaborations by vaccine developers, public agencies and governments to accelerate Ebola vaccine development during recent outbreak; and provides context for two microbicide trials – ASPIRE and The Ring Study – announced recently at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).
VAX offers a Primer on the various vaginal microbicide delivery methods in development, including rings, gels and even films containing HIV antibodies; a Spotlight on Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise Director Bill Snow sees him ponder the past and future of both the Enterprise and HIV vaccine research.