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NIAID Creates Global Network to Advance HIV Vaccines

NIAID Creates Global Network to Advance HIV Vaccines

BETHESDA, Md—The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is providing funding for nine US clinical units of the new international HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).

The new program is intended as a clinically based network to develop and test preventive HIV vaccines. Other units will be located in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

“The NIAID network creates a coordinated, global framework in which to conduct clinical HIV vaccine research,” NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a statement released to the press. “The new NIAID network will strengthen and expand our HIV vaccine studies both domestically and in countries devastated by the AIDS pandemic.”

NIAID will provide $29 million for the first year of HVTN operations. The organization’s clinical trials sites are coordinated by a Leadership Group that includes a Core Operations Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, which will provide administrative, technical, and operational support; a Statistical and Data Management Center, also located at Fred Hutchinson; and a Central Laboratory located at Duke University.

NIAID’s HIV vaccine research program was previously centered in two separate groups: the US-based AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group (AVEG), which carried out early-stage testing of vaccine candidates, and the HIV Network for Prevention Trials (HIVNET), which conducted domestic and international trials of HIV vaccines and other prevention strategies.

AVEG and HIVNET investigators, along with other scientists worldwide, underwent a competitive, peer-reviewed evaluation process during the creation of the new network.

“The HVTN will build upon the many accomplishments of the AVEG and HIVNET,” said Peggy Johnston, PhD, NIAID’s assistant director for AIDS vaccines. “The comprehensive clinical research agenda addresses many promising scientific opportunities to develop an HIV vaccine, which is ultimately the best hope for preventing the spread of HIV.”

According to the institute, “HVTN will conduct all phases of clinical trials, from evaluating candidate vaccines for safety and the ability to stimulate immune response, to testing vaccine efficacy.”

The program will integrate the work of the US-based units with those around the globe, allowing the network to expand rapidly to carry out larger scale studies of suitable vaccines, Dr. Johnston said. Many of the foreign institutions participating in HVTN have extensive experience in HIV prevention studies, she noted.

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