2005 Scientific Strategic Plan Part 1 - Vaccine Discovery
The Challenge: The immediate goal of HIV vaccine research is to design candidate vaccines that cause the immune system to produce protective responses from both of its major arms—cellular immunity and neutralizing antibodies.
There are major challenges to discovering vaccines capable of eliciting both types of responses. While researchers have developed vaccine candidates capable of eliciting cellular immunity against HIV in animal studies, early data from clinical trials suggest that the responses in humans may not be sufficiently potent, and current candidate vaccines may be duplicative. In addition, while researchers have identified antibodies that can bind to and neutralize HIV, they have been unsuccessful in designing vaccine candidates to elicit those antibody responses.
Recommendations: The scientific plan makes the following recommendations for overcoming these obstacles:
- Cellular immunity: Research teams currently developing cellular immunity-based vaccine candidates should coordinate their efforts and share data to increase knowledge and better guide the development of new candidates capable of eliciting more potent responses.
- Neutralizing antibodies: Large-scale research consortia should be created to focus on the problem of designing vaccine candidates capable of eliciting neutralizing antibodies. Many scientists believe that this problem can be solved by bringing together immunologists, structural biologists, and scientists from other disciplines.
- Early infection: To fill gaps in scientists' understanding of the interplay between HIV and the immune system, large-scale studies should be conducted of people who have very recently become infected with HIV, to learn important information about the role of a vaccine in the initial stages of infection.