United Press International Examines Vaccine Development for HIV/AIDS, Other Diseases
Researchers are "zeroing in on discovering" vaccines against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, that largely affect the developing world, scientists said this week at the BIO International Convention in Boston, United Press International reports. According to UPI, advanced trials of HIV vaccines are underway in Africa and China. Seth Berkley, president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said that the vaccines are specific to the HIV strains found in the regions where the trials are taking place. Berkley added that clinical trials in India, Rwanda and Zambia have had "extraordinary enrollment rates."
HIV vaccine candidates likely will be moderately effective against the virus, Berkley said, adding that because such a large number of people worldwide are HIV-positive, a small reduction in HIV incidence is worth pursuing. According to UPI, scientists are trying to develop a more effective vaccine that uses a strain of simian immunodeficiency virus that has been modified to be harmless to humans. According to Berkley, SIV "works better than anything else" scientists have tested so far at preventing HIV infection.
According to Christian Loucq, interim director of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the initiative is preparing to bring a malaria vaccine to 16,000 children in Africa within one year. The vaccine is one of 10 candidates in various development stages. MVI also aims to develop a vaccine by 2015 that prevents malaria in 50% of recipients for at least one year, according to Loucq.
Jerald Sadoff, president and CEO of the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, said that the group aims to bring the disease under control worldwide within 15 to 20 years. He added that the foundation plans to conduct final tests of a TB vaccine in South Africa and Southern India by 2008.
According to Loucq, efforts to develop vaccines for HIV, malaria and TB are being funded largely by not-for-profit foundations instead of the private sector. Loucq said that many pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to develop such vaccines because they tend to have small profit margins, adding, "It's viewed as a problem of no market." Not-for-profit foundations have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to develop vaccines against HIV, TB and malaria, UPI reports (Appel, United Press International, 5/9).