Paidamoyo Chipunza Health Reporter
MORE than 450 research studies outlining the latest advances and obstacles in the search for an Aids vaccine will be presented and debated at the International Aids Vaccine conference scheduled to take place next week in Barcelona, Spain. The conference, which runs from 7 to 10 October is expected to bring more than 1 000 of the world’s leading vaccine researchers, funders and policy makers to Barcelona.
In a statement released by the Global Vaccine Enterprise on Tuesday, researchers meeting at Aids Vaccine 2013 will report on several recent advances in the field including progress made to date in relation to several vaccines being tested globally.
An update on strategies to better understand and increase the modest protection observed in the famous Thailand study — the first study to reduce HIV infection risk through vaccination in 2003 — will also be shared at the meeting. The researchers are also expected to deliberate vaccination strategies being investigated in non-humans.
“As we meet in Barcelona, huge strides are being made in efforts to understand and replicate the development of broadly neutralising antibodies, which could be the basis for powerful new vaccine candidates.
“We are also seeing a flowering of cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional collaborations in vaccine research, as well as surprising new findings from individual labs and sophisticated animal studies,” said Bills Show, director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.
He said the conference will run under the theme progress, partnership and perseverence and all the three will be on display at Aids Vaccine 2013. Conference co-chair, Dr Bonaventura Clotet, who is also managing director of the Institute for Aids Research IrsiCaixa, said transforming advances from the laboratory into vaccine candidates for clinical trials will be a priority for participants. Mr Clotet said the ultimate challenge is, however, to develop a vaccine that is not only safe and effective against HIV, but also practical in real world settings.
Scientific director of the HIVACAT programme and ICREA Research Professor at IrsiCaixa Dr Christian Brander said although there are several advances in reducing HIV transmission such as the use of anti-retroviral medication, voluntary medical male circumcision and promising researches on microbicides, a safe and effective vaccine remains the key missing piece.
Latest trial results on vaccines which were under study are also expected to be released during the conference. The Aids Vaccine 2013 is the world’s only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to HIV vaccine research.