New funding for AIDS vaccine research

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded US$287 million in grants over the next five years to 16 different research teams, encompassing 165 investigators from 19 countries, to support innovative approaches to overcoming the scientific obstacles in AIDS vaccine research and to accelerate the development of new candidates. These grants are the Foundation's largest contribution to date for HIV/AIDS research and bring together many of the leading teams that are currently working to develop an effective vaccine.

Five of the grants are to laboratories that focus on research into vaccines that can elicit broadly-neutralizing antibodies against HIV. The largest of these grants, $25.3 million, was awarded to Robin Weiss of the University College London in the UK. Among the other recipients was Barton Haynes of Duke University in the US, who leads a team of researchers that was recently awarded a $300 million grant from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to form the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI).

Another six grants were issued to laboratories or consortia working on vaccine candidates aimed at inducing cellular immune responses to the virus. IAVI was the recipient of a $23.7 million grant in this category. Other grantees include David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York City and Juliana McElrath of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

A main point of these grants was to facilitate cooperation and coordination of data between vaccine discovery teams. The acceptance of this new funding is therefore contingent upon all awardees working through a network of standardized laboratories to test their vaccine candidates. The remaining five grants were provided to researchers who will form these centralized facilities for vaccine candidate evaluation and will be involved in measuring the immune responses generated by candidates developed through the vaccine discovery programs, as well as handling the data collection.

All articles written by Kristen Jill Kresge