New Aids research institute to come up

International Aids Vaccine Initiative has now roped India into its global research network aiming to find an efficient vaccine against Aids, which infects one million people worldwide and kills more than 1,50,000 Indians.

A Rs 40-crore research centre set up jointly by IAVI and Transnational Health Sciences and Technology Institute under the department of biotechnology would start full-scale operations in another six months to study new strategies and design novel vaccine candidates.

“Vaccine is a preferred long term goal because for every two persons put on HIV treatment, five more become newly infected. Close to 46 per cent of HIV infected people in low and middle income countries do not have access to HIV medicine,”said Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO of IAVI.

The Indian laboratory comes after close to 100 Aids vaccine candidates worldwide failed to meet expectations in the last two decades, leaving the world with no Aids  vaccine despite early promises.

Out of 100 Aids vaccine candidates, only four went to large scale efficacy trial stage.
As many as 70 have been abandoned while 26 candidates are in trials, said Wayne Koff, chief scientific officer at IAVI.

Out of the remaining four candidates, two did not give desired results whereas trials on the remaining two are yet to be completed.

“All failures can be attributed to high level of variability in the human immunodeficiency virus. The outer protein in virus’s envelop in India differs by 25 per cent with that of the virus found in the USA. Because of the variability, it is difficult to make a vaccine against HIV,” Koff explained.

There is 10 per cent difference in structure and composition of envelop protein even in the HIV sub-type C found in India and South Africa.

Keeping the variability in mind, the new laboratory will focus on new strategies to develop a vaccine targeting those areas in HIV’s envelop which are conserved across strains.

“We hope to get going in a year as we are still in the stage of building the new centre. Though it will start functioning in another six months from a rented site, the centre will move to its final destination in the TSHTI in Faridabad in another two years,” said Sudhanshu Vrati, dean of TSHTI.

Comments (+)