Scientific partnerships are essential to the fulfillment of IAVI’s mission: to ensure the development of effective HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Government research institutions, academic laboratories, pharmaceutical and small biotech companies, clinical research centers and contract manufacturing organizations are all among the scientific institutions IAVI works with in its efforts to speed the development of such vaccines.
Each has a special role to play in that effort. Innovative concepts and novel technologies for HIV vaccine research and development often stem from the work of academic researchers and laboratories. Biotechnology companies, meanwhile, are the chief drivers of innovation in vaccine discovery—developing novel means to deliver vaccine candidates and technologies to screen them for their potential utility. IAVI’s partnerships bridge the gap between these sectors through mechanisms such as the Neutralizing Antibody Consortium.
Yet the discovery of candidates is just the beginning of the vaccine development process. IAVI’s partnerships with pharmaceutical companies bring to HIV vaccine R&D the industry’s vast candidate screening libraries and compounds that boost the immune response to vaccines, known as adjuvants. They also tap the industry’s extensive stores of experience and expertise in the R&D process. Partnerships with contract manufacturing organizations, which can rapidly scale up production of vaccine candidates, afford flexibility in advancing the most promising candidates.
When those candidates are ready to be evaluated in clinical trials, the clinical research expertise of IAVI’s scientific partners in African countries, and their familiarity with the local communities that participate in such studies, are of critical importance. That experience and understanding helps to ensure that the vaccine candidates under development meet the needs of people who live in countries most affected by HIV.
IAVI also partners with government research institutions in a variety of ways. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), for example, has long led efforts to develop HIV vaccines. IAVI and the NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center have had a long-standing Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) focused on the design of vaccines to stimulate broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. The CRADA has led to several key discoveries in the past few years, including identification of new, vulnerable sites on HIV that can now be exploited for vaccine design.
IAVI also works closely with other government research institutions around the world, including India’s Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute, with which it recently established an HIV Vaccine Design Program.