IAVI REPORT – VOL. 19, NO. 1, 2015
We talk about science all the time in the pages of IAVI Report. We don’t often have the opportunity to talk about art. But increasingly the worlds of art and science are colliding, and so in this issue we explore the work of several artists who are at the forefront of this trend. These artists are culling laboratories for inspiration and collaborating closely with scientists to make some arresting artwork.
One of these artists, Katharine Dowson, created the eerily beautiful sculpture of the HIV Envelope trimer etched in polished glass that graces the cover of this issue. This sculpture was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and was featured at a temporary exhibit in Berlin that accompanied Gavi’s (The Vaccine Alliance) pledging conference in January.
Just as Dowson’s sculpture indicates, this trimeric viral protein is somewhat shadowy and mysterious. But thanks to great progress in isolating and characterizing broadly neutralizing antibodies that target HIV Envelope, more is known about it than ever before. Much of this progress was showcased at the recent Keystone Symposium on HIV Vaccines, held this March. The good news is that there are more conserved regions of Envelope than previously thought and this gives vaccine researchers more options to work with when developing immunogens designed to induce these powerful antibodies. Meanwhile, researchers are also developing new ways of tracking responses to vaccination that will also aid efforts to design better vaccine candidates.
This issue also features a full report from this year’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), held in February. Talks at CROI also focused on the progress in understanding antibodies and optimizing their functions, as well as the unquestionable evidence that pre-exposure prophylaxis (the use of antiretrovirals to prevent HIV infection) is a surprisingly effective means of HIV prevention, even when used on demand instead of on a daily basis.
This issue is the first in the 19th volume of IAVI Report. After 19 years there are still many vaccine-related stories to tell and our goal is to continue to bring you, our readers, a wide variety of opinions and perspectives on the ongoing quest for an AIDS vaccine.
—Kristen Jill Kresge