The way forward
As that work proceeds, experts are anticipating more results from follow-up studies of RV144 that should determine the effects of additional booster shots. One of the studies, RV305, showed that patients from the original RV144 trial displayed a spike in immune response with a boost six or eight years after being vaccinated. The P5 consortium is also planning to use the same vaccine structure from RV144 in South Africa, adapted to the HIV subtype common there.
The future will probably also see much greater cooperation among the various camps within the field: vaccinologists and pathogenicists, preventive and therapeutic vaccines, vaccine and microbicide approaches. As a matter of fact, the Barcelona meeting was the last Aids Vaccine Conference. Next year the gathering will be called the HIV Research for Prevention Conference (H4P) and will bring together the fields of vaccines, microbicides and antiretroviral drugs.
The new crossover of work and communication can only help in finding an effective vaccine, said Jose Esparza, senior advisor on global health of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, during a closing plenary. It will generate even more human data, which trumps everything that is done in vitro, he said. “Different vaccine concepts need to be tested in parallel. Clinical trials are critical, especially large-scale ones,” Esparza declared. “We need to conduct our research with the necessary sense of urgency that the epidemic is imposing on us.”