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Huge diversity in current HIV vaccine research, Research for Prevention conference hears
Gus Cairns, 2016-10-23 16:40:00

The HIV vaccine research field is currently going through probably its most fertile and diverse period yet, and a high proportion of presentations at the 2nd HIV Research for Prevention conference in Chicago were devoted to a multiplicity of different approaches towards designing vaccines to prevent HIV infection.

At the opening plenary, Georgia Tomaras of Duke University in North Carolina, USA gave an overview of the field. It has been a long journey towards developing vaccines with even partial efficacy: the first trial of any kind was in 1987 and the first large efficacy trial – which failed – was in 2003. But the RV144 vaccine, which in 2009 showed limited efficacy, reducing infections in recipients by 31% (and 60% a year after its first dose), injected new energy into the field, not least because its effect seemed due to an unexpected kind of anti-HIV response.

The international HIV conference in Durban heard in July that a pilot study, HVTN100, of an RV144-type vaccine adapted to the strain predominant in South Africa had shown evidence that it produced a stronger response than the RV144 vaccine (which was adapted to the AE strain predominant in Thailand). This meant it had passed the criteria for being advanced to a large efficacy trial, HVTN 702.