The Bill and Melinda Gates (BMG) Foundation has announced
a $287 million funding programme, involving 16 grants,
to create an international network of collaborative research
to develop HIV vaccine.
will bring together 16 research teams and 165 investigators
from 19 countries from the world over for development
of the vaccine.
grants will support innovative and effective research
on HIV vaccine and try to tackle some of the biggest scientific
challenges in AIDS research.
consortia will focus on vaccine discovery, applying new
scientific knowledge and cutting-edge research techniques
to create and evaluate novel vaccine candidates. These
consortia will be linked to five central laboratories
and data analysis facilities, enabling investigators to
openly share data and compare results, and allowing the
most promising vaccine approaches to be quickly prioritized
for further development, the foundation said in a release.
HIV vaccine is our best long-term hope for controlling
the global AIDS epidemic, but it has proven to be a tremendously
difficult scientific challenge," said Dr Jose Esparza,
senior advisor on HIV vaccines for the Gates Foundation.
"We have all been frustrated by the slow pace of
progress in HIV vaccine development, yet breakthroughs
are achievable if we aggressively pursue scientific leads
and work together in new ways," he added.
HIV vaccine research to date has been conducted by small
teams working independently. While some gains have been
made, these efforts lacked the type of support to make
it large-scale and productive,
grants known as the `Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery',
discovery consortia: Eleven vaccine discovery consortia
will pursue a range of innovative strategies for designing
vaccine candidates to trigger immune responses believed
to be critical for protection against HIV. The consortia
will focus on overcoming two main scientific obstacles:
designing vaccine candidates capable of eliciting effective
neutralizing antibodies to HIV, and improving current
vaccine candidates capable of stronger and more durable
protective cellular immune responses.
facilities: Five central facilities will be established,
including three laboratory networks for measuring the
immune responses elicited by vaccine candidates, a research
specimen repository, and a data and statistical management
a condition for receiving funding, the newly-funded vaccine
discovery consortia have agreed to use the central facilities
to test vaccine candidates, share information with other
investigators, and compare results using standardized
projects bring a new level of creativity and intensity
to bear on major scientific challenges facing HIV vaccine
development," said Dr Nicholas Hellmann, acting director
of the Gates Foundation's HIV, TB, and reproductive health
program. "Some of the vaccine concepts that will
be pursued have been talked about for years, but have
never been adequately studied. If
successful, they could lead to entirely new paradigms
for HIV vaccine development," he said.
addition, the foundation is developing global access plans
to help ensure that the discoveries will be accessible
and affordable for developing countries, where the vast
majority of new HIV infections occur.