Fri, 07 Sep 2012 Health

Progress and Challenges in the Search for an HIV Vaccine

By Citizen News Service (CNS)
Progress and Challenges in the Search for an HIV Vaccine

(CNS): Scientists from around the world will gather in Boston next week to present more than 400 new research studies updating global progress in the search for a safe and effective HIV vaccine. AIDS Vaccine 2012, the world's only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to HIV vaccine research, runs Sunday, 9 September through Wednesday, 12 September. The annual AIDS vaccine meeting is hosted by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise a unique collaboration of HIV vaccine research, funding, advocacy and stakeholder organizations. The Local Hosts for AIDS Vaccine 2012 are the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research and the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

"HIV vaccine research is in its most promising era since the epidemic began," said Bill Snow, director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise to Citizen News Service (CNS). "With sound and well-financed implementation, new HIV prevention strategies could produce important reductions in the 2.5 million HIV infections occurring each year. At the same time, the development of a safe and effective AIDS vaccine remains central to efforts to bring us significantly closer to the end of this epidemic."

A landmark 2009 HIV vaccine study known as RV144 in Thailand demonstrated the first proof of concept that an AIDS vaccine can prevent infection. AIDS Vaccine 2012 will follow up with new research exploring potential mechanisms on how and why that vaccine candidate may have worked, present new data on the workings of the human immune system that can help steer future vaccine design; and share updates on new neutralizing antibodies that protect against a wide range of HIV strains, which are driving new technologies. The conference program also includes other, potentially more powerful emerging immunological approaches to enhance HIV vaccine delivery and development.

In keeping with the conference theme of 'New Minds, New Ideas, New Approaches', AIDS Vaccine 2012 will host sessions exploring synergies between the most promising areas of HIV biomedical prevention research including HIV cure, microbicides and treatment as prevention and HIV vaccine research.

"Advances in HIV prevention strategies, including HIV vaccine development, are transforming the field," said Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and chair of AIDS Vaccine 2012. "Recent progress has also inspired new ideas and new approaches to the design and testing of next generation HIV vaccine candidates. We are pleased to welcome researchers from around the world to AIDS Vaccine 2012 to share their recent discoveries and to engage in these important discussions."

"Past approaches to vaccine design and testing have not yet yielded a safe and effective vaccine that the world so urgently needs. New ideas and novel perspectives are therefore eminently needed to achieve an HIV vaccine as soon as possible," said Galit Alter, assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and chair of AIDS Vaccine 2012. "At AIDS Vaccine 2012, we will hear how scientists, many who are new to the field, are using novel technologies and out-of-the-box approaches to take HIV vaccine research to the next phase of discovery to help end this epidemic." (CNS)

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