Experimental Medicine for Preventative HIV Vaccines

A 2-part event to engage scientists, clinicians, industry, funders, and community representatives on experimental medicine to progress HIV vaccine development efforts.

18 January 2022 and 01 February 2022

HIV vaccine development has spanned nearly 40 years of research since the virus that causes AIDS was first identified in 1981. Several challenges have hindered the advancement of an HIV vaccine1 including the rapid rate of evolution of the virus with multiple clades and strains distributed widely geographically, but also the scarcity and shielding structural properties of surface antigens that can be used to develop suitable immunogens. To date, no vaccine has been found to be sufficiently effective to warrant further development towards licensure. To achieve an effective vaccine, antibody induced immunity and an effective T-cell response will be needed. An effective vaccine immune response will need to be present at the site of infection, kill infected cells, and produce neutralising antibodies able to recognise multiple vulnerable regions of the virus.

Studies of immune responses induced by HIV infection and vaccination are needed to refine vaccine immunogen design and delivery. In addition, studies focusing on the use of antibodies as a standalone prevention method through passive immunization can further our knowledge.

HIV prevention has made substantial progress and conducting large and lengthy trials is becoming more difficult and costly with uncertain chances of success. As such, rapid and iterative improvements may be best achieved in pre-clinical and small-scale trials. In this context, there is a growing interest in experimental medicine approaches where product development is directly informed by human data at an early stage of product development rather than pre-clinical or animal data to support further development. Experimental medicine clinical research, sometimes also referred to as Phase 0 studies, can also accelerate progressing the most pertinent candidates through the development pipeline. 

This webinar series aim to (1) outline experimental medicine research and how the approach can hasten HIV vaccine research and development and (2) discuss current or planned experimental medicine trials of HIV vaccines testing new designs and strategies. Lessons learnt from other fields of medicine, ethical challenges, and community perspectives will also be discussed in the context of research conducted to speed up and streamline the R&D process, but which benefit will be for other studies and people in the future. 

Webinar 01 – What is experimental medicine and what are the key challenges?

Key elements of experimental medicine research will be discussed against the background of ethical challenges presented by this approach to research and development, with benefits that are not immediate to study participants. It will also highlight how to engage communities to achieve support.

Confirmed speakers and panellists

  • Chair: Mark Feinberg (CEO, IAVI, USA)
  • Robin Shattock (Professor of Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Imperial College London, UK)
  • Christine Grady (NIH, Chief, Bioethics, USA)
  • Jerome Kim (Director General, International Vaccine Institute, Korea)
  • Carl Dieffenbach (NIH, Director of the Division of AIDS, USA)
  • Maureen Luba (Senior Programme Manager, AVAC, Malawi)

The webinar will include a presentation, a panel discussion and a Q&A.

Webinar 02 – Experimental Medicine Trials for HIV Vaccine Research

This webinar will look into planned and ongoing experimental medicine trials for the development of HIV vaccines. Strategy, products and trials design will be reviewed and discussed with the aim to identify most promising areas for development.

Confirmed speakers and panellists

  • Chair: Nina Russell, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA
  • Bill Schief, Professor, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Scripps, USA.
  • Robin Shattock, Professor of Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Imperial College London, UK
  • Jim Kublin, Executive Director, HIV Vaccine Trials Network, USA
  • Ansuya Naidoo, Medical Director, IAVI, South Africa
  • Brett Leav, Vice President, Clinical Development, Public Health Vaccines, Moderna, USA
  • Stacey Hannah, Director of Research Engagement, AVAC, USA
  • Ann Arvin, Senior Vice President, VIR Biotechnology, USA

The webinar will include a presentation, a panel discussion and a Q&A.

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