coordinating committee of the plan reads like a "who's who" of global
AIDS experts, including Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes
of Health; Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS; and Pascoal
Mocumbi, former Prime Minister of Mozambique and Representative of the
European Developing Country Clinical Trials Partnership. The Enterprise
partners include many of the world's top AIDS vaccine funding and
advocacy organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, the US National Institutes of Health, the International
AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and the
AIDS Vaccines Advocacy Coalition.
The plan, developed with the collaboration of over 140 scientists
worldwide, identifies the major scientific roadblocks facing HIV
vaccine development, outlines a strategic approach to addressing them,
and proposes an innovative collaborative model that ensures that
researchers across the globe are harnessing their efforts towards a
"Development of an HIV vaccine remains one of the most difficult
challenges confronting biomedical research today," write the plan's
authors, but fortunately "scientific progress has created new
opportunities that could be harnessed more effectively through global
coordination and collaboration."
"These new opportunit
ies include an expanded HIV vaccine candidate
pipeline, improvements in animal models, a growing database from
clinical trials, and the availability of new quantitative laboratory
tools that make comparisons among vaccine studies feasible." What is
needed, they argue, is a way of tying all of these opportunities
together, and their plan provides a model for doing just that.
"A preventive vaccine is the world's best long-term hope for bringing
the HIV/AIDS epidemic under control," said Helene Gayle, Director of
the Gates Foundation's HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health program and one
of the plan's authors. "We hope that that the Global HIV Vaccine
Enterprise will speed the development of a vaccine by bringing new
collaboration, resources, and strategic focus to the field."
"The partners in the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise are committed to the
themes of cooperation, collaboration, and transparency in advancing HIV
vaccine research and development," said Anthony S. Fauci. "By working
together, we will greatly accelerate progress toward the critical goal
of developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine to help curb the global
"Being from the continent worst hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has
claimed more than twenty million lives and wiped out decades of
development gains," said Pascoal Mocumbi, "I do believe that this
scientific strategic plan will not only accelerate the development of a
lifesaving HIV vaccine but also boost African capacity in health
research to address new health threats."
In a related commentary on the plan, David D. Ho, Scientific Director
of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at the Rockefeller University
in New York, said that "there is no doubt that this roadmap will be
regarded as a useful instrument to bring greater cohesion and
coordination to the field."
Ho urges the Enterprise not to ignore the important contributions made
by scientists outside of the collaboration. "It is my contention that
great new ideas are as l
ikely to come from curiosity-driven basic
studies as from the mission-oriented approach that is represented by
the new proposal."
The PLoS Medicine editors hail the plan as being a "crucially important
outline for vaccine development." But in their editorial, they also
caution that "the goodwill surrounding it won't last unless it is
quickly followed up with a set of milestones, and a transparent process
by which successes and failures will be measured."
Related Articles : A Shot in the Arm for AIDS Vaccine Research.
The Global HIV/AIDS Vaccine Enterprise: Scientific Strategic Plan.
A Strategy for Developing an HIV Vaccine.
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