Researchers recently found that antibodies, though not neutralizing, were responsible for the low level (31%) of protection against HIV infection observed in the RV144 HIV vaccine trial—the first to show any vaccine efficacy. Over the past few years, researchers have also isolated scores of potent broadly neutralizing antibodies from HIV-infected individuals and identified common target epitopes. Progress has also been made in developing new antigens, adjuvants, and vaccination strategies that are capable of inducing higher titer, longer-lasting antibody responses. Yet the goal of developing a vaccine that can induce a long-lived antibody response capable of protecting against the extensive number of HIV variants in circulation has not been achieved yet, and remains a daunting task.
One of the many obstacles to the development of a feasible HIV vaccine is the issue of durability of immune responses, so on 23 September, the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise convened a group of immunologists and vaccine developers from industry, academia, and government research entities for a day-long think tank in New York City, part of the Enterprise’s Timely Topics series, to address the challenges associated with developing a durable, protective HIV vaccine and to identify the areas of research that should be prioritized to extend the durability of vaccine-induced immune responses to HIV.
The topic of antibody durability was proposed by David Pauza at the Institute of Human Virology and the program was co-organized by Pauza, Chris Wilson of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Neal Nathanson of the University of Pennsylvania, Ripley Ballou of GlaxoSmithKline and Amapola Manrique of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.