AIDS Vaccine Effort Is Urged
June 27, 2003
The world's leading HIV/AIDS researchers yesterday called for an international effort to accelerate the development of an AIDS vaccine. The two dozen HIV/AIDS leaders urged the creation of a Global Vaccine Enterprise and the establishment of six to 10 new research centers worldwide -- funded by new public and private money -- focused exclusively on an AIDS vaccine. Their article, "The Need for a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise," is published in the current edition of Science (2003;300(5628):2036-2039).Adapted from:
"Almost everyone involved in HIV vaccine development agrees that there is an urgent need to create and evaluate systematically more candidate vaccines," the AIDS experts wrote. "Despite the wide variety of conceptual approaches to HIV vaccine design, the pace of development of new HIV vaccine candidates needs to be accelerated." AIDS will have caused nearly 70 million deaths by 2020, the paper predicted.
The call for a new approach comes after years of few successes and many disappointments in the development of an AIDS vaccine. Only seven possible candidates for a vaccine have gone into human trials in the past two years, and only one entered phase III clinical testing. That effort failed to show significant protection among the more than 5,000 study participants.
Co-author Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that because none of the 60 million people who have contracted the virus has recovered on his own, scientists believe the body is unable to produce effective antibodies against HIV. Almost all vaccines work by introducing elements of a microbe or toxin, which cause the body to produce antibodies that protect against later infection.
The vaccine effort in part has been limited by the lack of involvement by large drug companies -- with the exception of Merck & Co. The paper's authors said they will need help not just in the discovery of a vaccine but also in testing and manufacturing it. Lead author Richard Klausner, executive director of global health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said both private organizations and governments must accept most of the burden in the AIDS vaccine effort.
Other co-authors included: Nobel Prize winners David Baltimore and Harold Varmus; CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding; VaxGen Inc. President Donald P. Francis; and researchers from France, England, India, China and South Africa.
06.27.03; Marc Kaufman