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Upstream science was featured Wednesday
at the Paris AIDS vaccine conference. After
Tuesday's review of the modest positive results of the recent Thailand AIDS vaccine
trials, scientists heard about research to improve the chance of finding a much
more effective vaccine.
Warren, head of AVAC, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, says the concept of
upstream science, once called basic research, goes back a few years.
2004 or so, there was a pretty broad recognition in the AIDS vaccine field
that…there was still a need to develop better vaccines. And that to develop those there were some big
scientific questions that needed to be addressed."
recognition, he says, led to greater resources being put into basic and
preclinical science, or upstream science, "that wasn't around vaccine
candidates per se at the time, but again focusing on some of these big
scientific questions about how the virus worked, about the structure of the
Lots of interesting and new approaches
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programs, one called the Center for HIV Vaccine Immunology…and another, the
Gates Foundation, funded a collaboration for AIDS vaccine discovery. And we're beginning to see the beginnings of
the fruits of lots of labor," he says. "Those
aren't vaccine candidates yet, buy they're really helping to develop new
approaches." he says.
recent years, some researchers complained of a lack of basic scientific
research. Instead, they said, there was an
emphasis on trying to make big discoveries.
says, "I actually think there has been a fascinating shift in nomenclature…in
the field right now. And historically,
we've talked about basic science leading into preclinical development, leading
into clinical trials. And that's one way
to slice and dice the vaccine development process."
things have changed in recent years, due in part to the unsuccessful Merck
vaccine trial and the modestly successful Thai vaccine trial.
we're seeing is an approach that doesn't say basic, preclinical, clinical – but
rather vaccine discovery and vaccine development. And we are seeing discovery efforts that
historically were seen as basic science activities coming out of human clinical
trials," he says.
think the most important message coming out is that while all different types
of research are important with non-human primates, with laboratory research,
HIV is a human disease. And the human is
the best animal in which to discover things about HIV and things about how to
make a vaccine better," he says.
clinical trials are delivering some important basic science information, he
"I think we will, over the coming
months and years, see a really interesting discussion taking place about how do
we go forward in asking the best questions and answering them in the best
possible experiment, whether it's seen as a laboratory experiment or a human
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