Vaccine Progress for HIV, Other Conditions Discussed at International Conference
Scientists recently gathered for the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference in Canberra, Australia, to discuss how vaccine and immune system technologies have the potential to protect people worldwide from HIV/AIDS and other diseases, the Inter Press Service reports. The three-day conference, which concluded Friday, drew researchers from Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S.
Global resources for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs total $8 billion annually, according to Inter Press Service. "The amount should be several times more than this," Gustav Nossal -- a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who attended the conference -- said. Although development of an effective HIV vaccine has proven difficult, researchers presented data at the conference showing that immunotherapy could potentially be used as a treatment for HIV/AIDS.
Stephen Kent of the University of Melbourne said, "We infuse fresh blood cells, which have been mixed with peptides or short proteins spanning the virus. We have found these induce a very strong immune response, enabling the body to fight off both the immunodeficiency virus and other opportunistic infections in laboratory models." Kent added that immunotherapy is "simple, easier to deliver, should have less side effects and can be used in conjunction with antiretroviral drugs."
Nossal said that although more money is being made available for vaccine research, wealthy countries, such as the Group of Eight industrialized nations, should be held accountable for their funding commitments to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (Bhandari, Inter Press Service, 4/14).