IAVI REPORT – VOL. 15, NO. 5, 2011

Vol. 15, No. 5 - September-October 2011Cover Art

The past two years have been fruitful in AIDS vaccine research.

One of the biggest developments was of course the first evidence of vaccine-induced protection against HIV to emerge from clinical trials. The results of the landmark RV144 trial in Thailand surprised many in the field. And as reported in this issue, RV144 continues to yield surprising results. At this year’s annual AIDS Vaccine Conference in Bangkok, researchers reported the results of a two-year collaborative effort to identify immune correlates that could explain the 31.2% protection afforded by the prime-boost vaccine regimen tested in RV144 (see A Bangkok Surprise ). 

Further investigation of the two antibody correlates they identified will now be one of the major areas researchers will be pursuing in coming years. Following the conference in Bangkok, some have even suggested that this follow-up work could lead to a first-generation partially effective vaccine.

The other major development in the past two years has been the isolation of dozens of new antibodies against HIV that are both broadly neutralizing and very potent. Following these discoveries, researchers have begun the challenging work of using structural biology to elucidate the targets of these antibodies on the virus, and the development of first-generation vaccine antigens that are now being tested in small animal models to see if they can induce these highly desired broadly neutralizing antibodies (see A Bangkok Surprise and Research Briefs ). This is another major frontier of AIDS vaccine research today.

But while these two areas are the most burgeoning, other researchers are still considering somewhat more radical approaches to HIV vaccine development, such as allovaccination (see The Human Parts of HIV).

Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise has released a new vision for the organization. Given the dramatic changes in the field, the tight funding environment, and the lack of leadership, the Enterprise will have a streamlined focus in the future (see The Enterprise Changes Course).

Also in this issue, we highlight the creation of the new nonhuman primate consortia to explore the earliest stages of mucosal infection (see Vaccine Briefs), the discovery of a new type of T cell with stem-cell like properties (see Research Briefs), and other news from HIV prevention research (see Vaccine Briefs).

Fruitful indeed!

—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor