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AIDS Vaccine Report Calls for Full Research Funding

May 19, 2009

The new 13th annual AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) report says the vaccine field is energized by "discovery, innovation, and basic science," and it warns against cuts during the current economic downturn.

"This year's report is really about putting all the pieces together," said Mitchell Warren, AVAC's executive director. "If you really think about not just the search for an AIDS vaccine but in fact the entire HIV prevention response, it really is a puzzle." Fitting them together is "the way in which we can end the epidemic," he said.

"We at AVAC actually believe that this is one of the most exciting times in AIDS vaccine research. And it's really for two reasons," Warren said. "There is new energy, new commitment to unlocking some of the basic scientific roadblocks that have impeded our ability to find a vaccine."

Warren cited as an example a novel way researchers recently produced antibodies through gene-transfer, instead of relying on the body's immune system. "It doesn't mean we have an AIDS vaccine, but it means we have an entirely new approach to trying to deliver protection," he said.

Another reason for optimism is that useful information was yielded from the failed STEP trials involving Merck and Co.'s AIDS vaccine candidate, according to AVAC's report. "A study that showed a product didn't work is actually providing us an unimaginable amount of information," Warren said.

In this economic environment, "I believe that every dollar spent is going to be held up to a greater scrutiny, as budgets tighten and as funders have to re-examine their priorities," Warren said. But the vaccine hunt could cost even more later if scientific research is not fully funded now, he said.

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Voice of America News
05.18.2009; Joe DeCapua

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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