International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (known as IAVI) is a global not-for-profit, public-private partnership working to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. IAVI researches and develops vaccine candidates, conducts policy analyses, serves as an advocate for the HIV prevention field and engages communities in the trial process and AIDS vaccine education. The organization takes a comprehensive approach to HIV and AIDS that supports existing HIV prevention and treatment programs while emphasizing the need for new AIDS prevention tools. It also works to ensure that future vaccines will be accessible to all who need them. The organization has offices in Africa, Europe, India and the United States.
In 1994, the Rockefeller Foundation convened an international meeting of AIDS researchers, vaccinologists, public health officials, and representatives from philanthropic organizations in Bellagio, Italy, to evaluate the challenges facing HIV/AIDS vaccine development and identify ways to jump-start research. Concluding that there was a gap in existing vaccine development efforts – particularly in applied vaccine development and in coordinated international scientific activities and funding strategies – participants called for a new type of organization to accelerate the development of an AIDS vaccine. These meetings resulted in the establishment of IAVI in 1996, as an international non-governmental organization tasked with aggressively pursuing previously neglected approaches to AIDS vaccine development.
IAVI’s scientific team, drawn largely from private industry, researches and develops AIDS vaccine candidates and engages in clinical trials and research through partnerships with more than 50 academic, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and governmental institutions. A major portion of the organization’s activities occur in developing countries, where 95 percent of new HIV infections occur. IAVI sponsors AIDS vaccine trials in collaboration with local scientists primarily in Africa, where subtypes of HIV different from that common in other regions of the world circulate.
The organization also has provided resources to translational research to fill roles traditionally played by the biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies. IAVI conducts translational research at its AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory in New York City, its Neutralizing Antibody Center at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and its Human Immunology Laboratory at Imperial College London in London, England. It also has entered into a partnership with the Government of India on an HIV Vaccine Design Program (HIV Vaccine Translational Research Laboratory at Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Gurgaon). IAVI and its network of partners have developed and advanced 13 HIV vaccine candidates into early-stage human trials, including the first HIV vaccine trials conducted in Germany, India, Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia.
IAVI publishes a range of materials on topics related to AIDS vaccine development. In July 2010, the organization published "Progress on the path toward an AIDS vaccine," which examines recent progress in HIV vaccine development. The bimonthly IAVI Report and VAX track the latest news in vaccine development and related topics, and offer an online database of all AIDS vaccine trials, also available through IAVI’s website.
The organization also documents policy-related topics, including vaccine research and development expenditures, incentives to increase industry participation in vaccine discovery, and potential health and economic impacts of a vaccine. IAVI has focused on communicating the need for an AIDS vaccine in recent years at the G8 forum, the United Nations General Assembly meetings on AIDS, the UN Millennium Development Goals, and regional and global AIDS conferences.
To address major obstacles in AIDS vaccine development, IAVI partners with HIV researchers from around the world in AIDS vaccine consortia. Foremost is the Neutralizing Antibody Consortium, a network dedicated to discovering and understanding broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV and using that knowledge in the design of vaccines. IAVI also operates the Innovation Fund – a financing mechanism established jointly with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which seeks out and supports using new technologies to solve major issues hampering AIDS vaccine development.
The organization also partners with individuals and organizations in developing countries to conduct epidemiological studies, social-science research, educational initiatives, voluntary counseling and testing consultations and capacity-building to ensure transparent and effective clinical trial processes. Partners include the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Rwanda’s Project San Francisco, the Uganda Virus Research Institute, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Zambia–Emory HIV Research Project. In some countries where IAVI is not sponsoring clinical studies, the organization works with partners to support AIDS vaccine research and advocacy efforts.
IAVI also partners with other organizations to analyze how improved public policies could help to accelerate AIDS vaccine R&D and ensure rapid global access to a future vaccine. As part of the organization’s advocacy in developing countries, IAVI supports the India-Brazil-South Africa trilateral agreement as a vehicle for spurring cooperation in vaccine development among countries with growing biomedical research and manufacturing capabilities. The organization is a founding member of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of independent organizations working towards an HIV vaccine. It is also a member of the Global Health Technologies Coalition, an alliance of more than 30 non-profit groups that aims to increase awareness of the urgent need for technologies that save lives in developing countries.
In September 2009, a global group of researchers led by IAVI published a study in the journal Science identifying PG9 and PG16, two highly powerful broadly neutralizing antibodies against a wide variety of HIV variants. The site on the virus to which PG9 and PG16 attach revealed a vulnerability on HIV. PG9 and PG16 were the first new broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV discovered in more than a decade and are the result of a global effort launched in 2006. Several more have broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV haven been isolated since this discovery, and researchers are now using this information to guide the design and development of new and perhaps more potent AIDS vaccine candidates.
IAVI’s donors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the Glickenhaus Foundation, the James B. Pendleton Charitable Trust, the Starr Foundation, the William & Mae Salcone Charitable Trust, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; the governments of Denmark, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New York City, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Basque Autonomous Government; multilateral organizations such as the OPEC Fund for International Development and the World Bank; corporate donors including Advanced Electronic Solutions, BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Carlsberg Group, Canon Business Solutions, Continental Airlines, the EMMES Corporation, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Google Inc., Institut Merieux, Pfizer Inc, UNIT4 Business Software, White & Case LLP, VWR, Ziff Brothers Investments and Zwiser Leven; and many individuals from around the world.
- Berkley, Seth. (2006). Ending an epidemic: the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative pioneers a public-private partnership. Innovations, Vol. 1, No. 1. 52–66.
- About IAVI INFOsheet. Retrieved Aug. 17, 2010
- Holtzman, J. (2009). International Aids Vaccine Initiative. TechImpact @ Yale, 3(1), 1-2.
- IAVI.org website. Retrieved April 13, 2012
- Stewart, Dianne. “Spurring innovation in AIDS vaccine development,” Blog 4 Global Health. May 3, 2010.]
- Global Health Technologies Coalition website. Retrieved Aug. 3, 2010
- Cohen, Jon (2009). Potent Antibodies Spark Vaccine Hopes. Science, Vol. 325. no. 5945, p. 1195
- "Two New Antibodies Found to Cripple HIV," Theraclone Sciences news release. Sept. 3, 2009.
- Phogat, Sanjay. "Antibody Discoveries Latest Advance in AIDS Vaccine Research Renaissance," Global Health Magazine blog. July 17, 2010.