May 18 is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Canadian meeting of HIV vaccine developers highlights the importance of industry engagement

WINNIPEG, May 17, 2013 /CNW/ - HIV vaccine development is gaining momentum due in part to the identification of broadly neutralizing antibodies that could stop the virus from entering and infecting healthy cells, and from the results of the RV 144 HIV vaccine trial which showed over 30 per cent vaccine efficacy. These recent discoveries have renewed interest in the development of preventative vaccines for HIV.

But moving vaccines from the lab to the clinic isn't easy.

Getting potential vaccines to the clinical stages and the important role of industry in this process was the subject of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI) Research and Development Alliance Coordinating Office's (ACO) annual meeting, held last month in Vancouver, B.C.

"Over the course of the event we heard that the next few years will see a number of trials of candidate HIV vaccines move ahead in the pipeline. Several innovations and technologies are beginning to mature, and with this, the products and associated benefits are emerging, but there are still a number of barriers to overcome," says ACO Director Dr. Greg Hammond.

The ACO annual meeting was broadly structured into three main themes - understanding needs; sharing information and knowledge; and building collaborations. Among the 20 speakers were Canadian and international researchers, and industry and community-based representatives who outlined challenges, available resources, and future considerations in HIV vaccine development.

"Throughout the meeting, the importance of collaborations was highlighted because they provide expertise, funding and resources for projects. In the absence of collaboration, the development of HIV vaccine candidates is hindered," Hammond says.

A report on the meeting will be released on the ACO website (alliance-aco.ca) in the near future. Key points raised include the following:

  • More work is needed to foster smaller companies that are developing vaccines and to support technologies that will allow for successful clinical trials and availability of an HIV vaccine.
  • There is a need to establish working relationships and facilitate communication between industry and community.
  • All vaccine efforts should engage early with those in broader communities who are affected by HIV. This would help keep people informed and involved so that vaccines are understood and supported in the long term.

More than 75 people including researchers, industry, government, and community-based representatives attended the ACO annual meeting.

The CHVI is Canada's contribution to the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. It is a five-year collaborative initiative between the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and represents a significant Canadian contribution to global efforts to develop a safe, effective, affordable and globally accessible HIV vaccine. The ACO was established by the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2011 at the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID), a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The ACO is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is an annual observance to recognize and thank volunteers, community members, health professionals, and scientists who are working together to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine. It is also a day to educate communities about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research.

SOURCE: Alliance Coordinating Office

For further information:

Renée Barclay,
Communications Specialist, Alliance Coordinating Office
International Centre for Infectious Diseases
Tel: 204-946-5157
Email: aco-communications@icid.com

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