Towards an HIV/AIDS vaccine
An effective vaccine would be the ideal weapon in the fight against HIV infection. Unfortunately, global efforts in this direction have so far been unsuccessful. In order to provide new impetus, the European Union is funding new innovative approaches to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine.
AVIP – AIDS Vaccine Integrated Project
AVIP is a joint European and African project aimed at developing a combined vaccine including both structural and regulatory HIV genes. Such a vaccine would provide both preventive and therapeutic effects, inducing immune responses against early and late HIV infection.
To ensure a positive outcome, priority has been given to vaccine combinations containing single antigens that are already approved for human use and with proven efficacy in preclinical models. The resulting compounds are to be tested in Europe and, ultimately, in those developing countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. The project also supports training, technology transfer and community involvement between the EU and these countries. The first vaccine trials using human volunteers will start in 2006.
MUVAPRED – Mucosal Vaccines for Poverty-Related Diseases
The HIV virus most typically enters the human body through the mucosal surfaces during sexual intercourse, infecting the local immune system. Hence, the induction of a mucosal immune response would be an important first line of defence in preventing the spread of the infection.
The MUVAPRED project aims to develop mucosal vaccines against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, another important disease transmitted through mucosal surfaces. Such vaccines can be administered via convenient mucosal routes, presenting many advantages when compared with injected vaccines.
The project is expected to provide candidate vaccines with proven safety and efficacy in humans, combining promising antigens and novel delivery systems. The first trials in humans will start at the end of 2005.