The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) together with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (GSK Biologicals) have announced a public-private partnership to develop an AIDS vaccine using a new technology. The human primate adenovirus vector technology was derived from research conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania. The technology is owned by the University and is exclusively licensed to GSK.
According to the agreement, IAVI and GSK will collaborate to advance the development of the technology, which uses non-infectious vaccine vectors to stimulate specific immune responses directed against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The vectors are derived from adenoviruses, originally isolated from non-human primates, which have been engineered to be non-infectious and capable of efficiently delivering genes expressing HIV proteins to the immune system. IAVI will play a role in contributing technical expertise and funding and thus form a joint R&D team together with GSK.
Members of the team say that the initial research will focus on designing vaccines to elicit immune responses against variants of HIV that circulate predominantly in Africa and after pre-clinical evaluation, GSK Biologicals and IAVI plan to conduct Phase I clinical trials of the vaccine candidates. The R& D team has also promised that they would wholeheartedly work towards making a successful vaccine very soon and make it available to developing countries at affordable prices.
Both companies say they hope this will be the beginning of a long-term partnership and is a model for how the public and private sectors can work together. The private sector has an immense amount of knowledge, resources and expertise, and they say that an innovative partnership such as this are essential to tackle global health challenges.
Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development has stressed on the need of an an AIDS vaccine in the fight against disease and extreme poverty in the developing world, particularly in Africa and also says that such types of collaboration between the public and private sectors is critical for enhancing the research and development of new vaccines against the world's most devastating infectious diseases.