A new 23 million euro ($25 million) initiative to accelerate the search for an effective HIV vaccine have been launched.
Financed by the European Commission, the European AIDS Vaccine Initiative (EAVI2020) brings together leading HIV researchers from public organizations and biotech companies from across Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S. in a focused effort to develop protective and therapeutic HIV vaccines.
According to the World Health Organization, around 35 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2013. More than 2 million people are newly infected every year, and it is estimated that around $22 billion is spent by the U.S. yearly on HIV treatment and care. An effective vaccine remains the best hope of ending the epidemic.
Although researchers have been working on developing a vaccine for 30 years, recent advances are helping to speed up their quest. Scientists have isolated antibodies that are able to block HIV infection in preclinical models, and there have been new developments in using synthetic biology to design better vaccines.
The EAVI2020 consortium, which is led by Imperial College London, unites scientists from 22 institutions, pooling their knowledge and expertise to develop novel candidate vaccines that can be taken through to human trials within five years. EAVI2020 is funded with an E.U. grant under the health program of Horizon 2020 for research and innovation.