Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Gallo, Montagnier Confirm New Joint AIDS Research Venture to Improve Access to Treatment, Vaccine Development
Robert Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, Md., and Luc Montagnier, president of the UNESCO-supported World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, confirmed on Monday in Rome that they will join forces to co-direct the Program for International Viral Collaboration, a research initiative designed to improve access to antiretroviral drugs in the developing world and to accelerate HIV/AIDS vaccine research, Reuters Health reports. The collaboration marks the end of a "bitter dispute" over which man was the first to discover HIV and develop a blood test for the virus. "Both scientists agree that it is now most important to move forward and make history, not rehash it," the Institute of Human Virology said in a statement in February after the researchers' first planning session. Dr. Vittorio Colizzi of Tor Vergata University in Rome said that both the February meeting in Baltimore and this week's meeting in Rome were "important" to the development of the program. "In Baltimore (in February) the focus was on the political aspect of the partnership, while in Rome we discussed strategies and practical aspects," Colizzi, who had worked independently with both men and played a "key" role in the negotiations, explained. The project will focus on improving treatment access in developing nations, and, utilizing a network made up of laboratories on three continents -- Gallo's institute, Montagnier's Pasteur Institute in Paris and the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome -- will seek to accelerate vaccine development. The group hopes to conduct clinical tests involving four vaccines: one developed by Colizzi at the Spallanzani Institute to prevent transmission of HIV through
breastmilk, two vaccines developed by Gallo -- one utilizing HIV genes inserted into the Salmonella virus and another targeting HIV's Tat protein -- and a fourth vaccine developed by Montagnier and partners in Montreal that uses a genetically modified HIV envelope protein. According to Reuters Health, the collaboration represents a "common dream" for both Gallo and Montagnier (Lorenzi, Reuters Health, 3/19).
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