IAVI REPORT – VOL. 17, NO. 2, 2013
In the three decades since the human immunodeficiency virus was identified as the cause of AIDS, researchers have accumulated an impressive body of knowledge about its transmission and interaction with the immune system. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that we know more about HIV than we do about any other viral pathogen. That knowledge has been impressively applied to develop targeted antiretroviral therapies (ART) that have turned HIV infection—once a certain death sentence—into a relatively manageable chronic disease, at least in regions where such therapies are widely available and accessible.
One article in this issue of IAVI Report covers a meeting at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, home to one of the two labs that first isolated the virus in 1983, where a number of leading researchers gathered to commemorate 30 Years of HIV Science. Though HIV researchers have plenty to brag about, scientists in attendance focused more on what remains to be done. It is notable that much of the discussion centered on efforts to develop a cure for HIV, an ambition that would have been considered quixotic at best just a few years ago.
A second major report in this issue comes from a conference held this year in Utrecht, the Netherlands, that brings together experimentalists, mathematical biologists, and theoreticians to explore all things HIV. It was the mathematical modeling of HIV’s infective cycle in the body that inspired combination ART, a therapeutic strategy that has transformed the prognosis of HIV infection. All the evidence at Utrecht suggested that such studies still have much to contribute to the prevention and treatment of this pernicious disease. A third report in this issue examines some relatively unusual approaches to designing vaccines to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. Finally, a research report looks at the recent discovery that a candidate vaccine vector, derived from cytomegalovirus, induces highly unusual T-cell responses in monkeys. These might be uniquely harnessed to improve the efficacy of future vaccines.
We hope, as always, that you will enjoy this issue.