IAVI REPORT – VOL. 15, NO. 1, 2011

Vol. 15, No. 1 - Jan.-Feb. 2011Cover Art

This year marks 30 years since the first published description of AIDS in the US, an anniversary that will likely spur considerable reflection on the advances in both treating and preventing HIV/AIDS.

A notable area of recent progress in vaccine research is the isolation of several HIV-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies. In this issue, we feature the second installment of our Living History of AIDS Vaccine Research series (see As Antibody Findings Mount, What Comes Next?). This time we discuss the recent antibody advances with four leading experts to add some perspective to these findings and to the challenges in turning these discoveries into HIV vaccine candidates.

In a related story, we summarize the key findings of a recent study that describes the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies in HIV-infected individuals in greater detail than previous studies (see Research Briefs).

Despite a three-decade-long effort to understand the biology of HIV and how the virus is transmitted, there are still unanswered questions that some researchers think could be impeding the development of effective vaccines and microbicides. One question is whether HIV-infected cells, in addition to free virus particles, contribute to HIV transmission. In Is HIV Hitching a Ride Inside Cells?, we review what is known about cell-bound HIV transmission and why it might matter.

We never shy away from tackling complex topics at IAVI Report, whether it’s somatic hypermutation or the latest developments in structural biology. But in this issue we take on a subject we’ve never broached before, matters of the heart. That’s right, love.

We’ve been interested for some time in the numerous couples that are both involved in HIV research, oftentimes working side by side in the lab or as co-investigators on trials. And when we began thinking about writing a story on this, we collected a long list of couples working on HIV research. In this issue, we present the stories of how science and romance intermingle for four of these couples (see Chemistry Lab).

That’s not the only first in this issue. We are happy to also feature our first Commentary piece, authored by veteran vaccine developer Stanley Plotkin, who wishes to remind HIV vaccine researchers that vaccine development has not always been done empirically (see More than Trial and Error). Another new foray in this issue is a review of two recently published books that detail the roots and repercussions of the anti-vaccine movement (see Fearing Vaccines More than Disease).

We hope you will enjoy reading these new features and, as always, we welcome your feedback and ideas.

—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor