Through the creation of pioneering research networks in Africa — the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic — IAVI has invested in Africa-led HIV prevention science. ADVANCE (Accelerate the Development of Vaccines and New Technologies to Combat the AIDS Epidemic) is a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to further the progress of HIV research in the region.
ADVANCE is cultivating a core group of researchers and scientists in Africa, who will enable their institutions to participate in the global effort to identify, evaluate, and implement an HIV vaccine. IAVI provides research and technical assistance in implementing clinical trials, helps build capacity in transfer of technology, and leverages partnerships to build lasting vaccine research and development capacity on the continent. With ADVANCE, the results of community epidemiology studies can be applied to advance the development of an effective HIV vaccine or other prevention tools.
ADVANCE builds upon IAVI’s long-term partnership with USAID and capitalizes on the Africa-based research network that IAVI has fostered for over 15 years. ADVANCE expands this work to include management of multiple vaccine or prevention trials in IAVI’s clinical network.
ADVANCE has four areas of focus:
- Understanding communities and cohorts involved in epidemiology studies, social science studies, and community engagement/research preparedness.
- Through Africa-centered science (the VISTA program), IAVI is leading the design and testing of vaccine immunogens.
- Clinical evaluation of vaccine candidates.
- Sustainable capacity building of scientists and institutions and transferring critical technologies and information.
VISTA funds research and capacity building with IAVI’s clinical research center partners in five countries in Africa focused on developing vaccine candidates and assessing the immune responses they induce. VISTA is an initiative supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development to strengthen vaccine research and development in Africa, and to engage African scientists in vaccine development. VISTA partners and postdoctoral fellows study the nature of the transmitted virus in different counties and populations, united by the goal of advancing vaccine design and assessment.
Leveraging partnerships and laboratory capabilities across five African countries, Europe, and the U.S., the VISTA consortia has unique access to well-characterized cohorts and samples. Through study of the largest African early infection cohort, the Protocol C cohort, IAVI and partners have collected over 30,000 samples from volunteers over the course of their HIV infection. VISTA postdoctoral fellows and partners have identified individuals within this cohort who spontaneously control their infection, called “elite controllers,” and are studying what enables their viral control.
IAVI also supports VISTA-funded scientists in developing assays to evaluate samples emerging from ongoing studies supported by IAVI’s Product Development Center (PDC).