Leading Scientists Call for a Human Vaccines Project in Science
Accelerating Next-Generation Vaccine Development for Global Disease Prevention
May 30, 2013 - A group of leading scientists advocate the creation of a Human Vaccines Project to accelerate
the development of next generation vaccines against major global killers such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases.
In the current issue of the journal Science they further argue that a Human Vaccines Project would fuel vaccine approaches to preventing
allergies, autoimmune diseases and cancers, and provide a firm foundation for developing vaccines against new and emerging
diseases. ( Science , Accelerating Next-Generation Vaccine Development for Global Disease Prevention )
Led by IAVI's Chief Scientific Officer Wayne Koff, the authors survey new biomedical technologies-ranging from genomics to
humanized mice-that might be harnessed to advance the development of a new generation of vaccines. Further, they propose the coordinated
conduct of small, iterative clinical studies in human volunteers to generate a more granular picture of the systemic requirements of
vaccine-induced immunity. Such information would, they argue, establish a firm scientific foundation for vaccinology, one that
could be applied to improve the design of all future vaccine candidates.
Among the most effective of public health interventions, vaccines collectively prevent the death of 2-3 million people
every year. Yet researchers have not been able to devise broadly effective vaccines against a number of deadly or debilitating
infectious agents that have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to evade the immune system. New approaches are needed to prevent
infection by such pathogens.
Though informed by science, vaccine design has traditionally been guided more by the results of disease-specific
experimentation than by a generally applicable set of principles. Researchers today know relatively little about the general
interplay of immune responses and supporting cellular and biochemical factors that fuel lasting immunity in response to
vaccination. As a consequence, the success rate of vaccine candidates that enter the first phase of clinical
evaluation-at 22%-is roughly half that of biotech drugs. New technologies could do much to change this state of affairs.
Vaccinologists have already begun to devise new approaches to vaccine design. For example, "systems vaccinology" studies
of the full complement of human genes activated by the yellow fever vaccine have begun to illuminate the range of interacting immune
factors and cells that are essential to its notable potency. An application of genomics named "reverse vaccinology" has allowed
scientists to devise a long-sought vaccine against meningococcus B, a bacterium that can cause lethal systemic infections.
Meanwhile, the rapid, robot-assisted structural analysis of proteins, large-scale gene sequencing, and computationally
directed protein engineering are already being applied in sync to design vaccine candidates that might overcome the
staggering variability of HIV and other highly mutable viruses, such as influenza and hepatitis C.
Koff and his co-authors argue that much more could be achieved if such studies were coordinated and combined under a single
goal-oriented program. Some 2.5 million people are newly infected by HIV each year; broadly effective HIV vaccines would do much to
reverse that trend and, ultimately, end the AIDS pandemic. The effort to develop such vaccines would benefit immeasurably from a
Human Vaccines Project, and IAVI offers its full support to any such effort.
Along with Wayne Koff and Rick King, IAVI's Vice President of Vaccine Design, the authors of the Science review include
the Scientific Director of IAVI's Neutralizing Antibody Consortium, Dennis Burton, of The Scripps Research Institute; Philip Johnson of
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Bruce Walker of The Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard; Gary
Nabel of Sanofi-Aventis; Rafi Ahmed of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University; Maharaj Bhan, Secretary, Department of
Biotechnology, Government of India; and Stanley Plotkin of the University of Pennsylvania.
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development
of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Founded in 1996, IAVI works with
partners in 25 countries to research, design and develop AIDS vaccine candidates. In addition, IAVI conducts policy
analyses and serves as an advocate for the AIDS vaccine field. IAVI supports a comprehensive approach to
addressing HIV and AIDS that balances the expansion and strengthening of existing HIV-prevention and
treatment programs with targeted investments in the design and development of new tools to prevent
HIV. IAVI is dedicated to ensuring that a future AIDS vaccine will be available and accessible
to all who need it. IAVI relies on the generous donations from governments, private
individuals, corporations and foundations to carry out its mission. For more information,
see www.iavi.org .
US and International
Arne Naeveke, PhD
Tel: +31 63 882 4367
Tel: +1 212 328 7415
Tel: +31 20 521 0343
Source: IAVI International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
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