Vaccine Briefs

CAVD Reports Progress

The Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD), an international research network created in 2006 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate development of an AIDS vaccine, has recently issued the first-ever cumulative review of its progress. The CAVD now comprises 400 investigators in 21 countries, with total funding exceeding US$327 million, representing the majority of the Foundation’s support for AIDS vaccine research and development. When it was created, the CAVD model included 16 funded institutions but it has since grown to include 19 primary grantees that all work with a number of other collaborating institutions around the world.

The report, available at www.cavd.org, provides an overview of the scientific and operational (legal and business) progress made by the network of nearly 100 public and private research institutions involved in the CAVD over the past two and a half years. The researchers involved in the CAVD are exploring a range of approaches to AIDS vaccine development and a scientific update for each of these areas is outlined in the report.

So far, there have been 35 studies initiated with the CAVD’s Mouse Immunology Laboratory and the Antibody and T-cell Vaccine Immunology Monitoring Consortia; 16 of those studies have been completed and the data has been shared among CAVD researchers. Additionally, 47 articles based on work conducted by CAVD collaborators have so far been published in peer-reviewed journals.

The CAVD supports the goals of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, as described in its Scientific Strategic Plan, which was first proposed in 2003 by a number of HIV researchers and policymakers as a way to promote multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to generating and testing vaccine candidates. Like the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology—which was established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2005—the CAVD draws together experts from different disciplines to take on specific projects that can inform vaccine discovery. The CAVD was conceived as a translational program that harnesses existing or new science with the objective of developing candidate vaccines to be tested in proof-of-concept clinical trials. It also emphasizes collaboration through the use of standardized reagents and assays, as well as in sharing data as quickly as possible. —Regina McEnery

KAVI Marks 10-year Anniversary

It was 10 years ago that the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) became involved in the search for an AIDS vaccine. But the seeds of this organization, which is headquartered at the University of Nairobi and was created by local researchers with funding from IAVI and the Medical Research Council’s Human Immunology Unit at Oxford University, were planted much earlier. In the early 1980s, a number of Kenyan scientists—in partnership with researchers from the University of Manitoba—started to notice that a small percentage of commercial sex workers remained HIV uninfected over time despite repeat exposure to HIV (see Individual Armor Against HIV, IAVI Report, July-Aug. 2008). Three leading Kenyan scientists involved in this research helped establish KAVI in 1999—Professor Omu Anzala, KAVI’s Program Director; Professor Walter Jaoko, Deputy Program Director of KAVI; and the late Professor Job Bwayo, a co-founder of KAVI, who was tragically killed in 2007. "Until KAVI, vaccine research had never really been carried out in this country," says Anzala. When KAVI was first established, some people were skeptical that an institution of this kind in Kenya would be able to meet the "level and standards" needed to conduct clinical trials, he adds. But Anzala says KAVI has not only met those standards, but raised the bar, both scientifically and ethically.

KAVI has been a productive partner in vaccine research and development, conducting four Phase I trials, as well as a Phase IIa trial of a clade A HIV-DNA/modified vaccinia Ankara prime-boost candidate, all at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi. KAVI is also participating in an IAVI-sponsored study known as Protocol G, which is analyzing samples collected from a cohort of HIV-infected individuals to look for broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. While a primary goal is testing AIDS vaccine candidates, Anzala says KAVI also has the capacity to test preventive vaccines for malaria and tuberculosis, and he hopes the organization can also broaden its scope to include more basic research.

To mark its 10-year anniversary, KAVI hosted a scientific forum, "Emerging Vaccines: A Public Health Priority," on March 26. KAVI will also recognize the work of its community stakeholders on World AIDS Vaccine Day, which is observed annually on May 18. —Regina McEnery