| PORTLAND, Ore., Sept 3
PORTLAND, Ore., Sept 3 Oregon researchers
developing a vaccine that has shown promise in preventing HIV
infection in primates said on Wednesday they have been awarded a
$25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Oregon Health & Science University scientists, in announcing
the award, said they hope to develop a vaccine that not only
prevents the HIV virus from infecting people exposed to it, but
also eliminates the virus from those already infected.
The grant follows research published by the scientists
seeking to show their vaccine candidate halting the transmission
of, or eliminating altogether, a form of the virus in about half
of more than 100 monkeys tested.
"In effect, we helped better arm the hunters in the body to
chase down and kill an elusive viral enemy," lead researcher
Louis Picker wrote in the magazine Nature, which published lab
results last year. "And we're quite confident that this vaccine
approach can work exactly the same way against HIV in humans."
While the annual number of new HIV infections has declined
in recent years, more than 35 million people globally were
living with HIV and an estimated 2.1 million people were newly
infected with the virus that causes AIDS last year, according to
the World Health Organization.
Although AIDS-related deaths have dropped in recent years
due to antiretroviral drug therapy, some 1.5 million people
still died from the disease last year, the organization said.
In the United States, the annual rate of diagnosis with HIV
fell by a third between 2002 and 2011, according to a study in
the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The grant will be used over the next five years to establish
whether the vaccine can be used safely on humans in a clinical
trial and to help Picker develop a version of the vaccine
suitable for larger-scale testing, which is required to bring it
to market and will take at least a decade.
The grant will largely be used to develop the preventative
vaccine, which could also be used for therapeutic and
antiretroviral therapies, the university said in a statement.
The National Institutes of Health cited Picker's research
among its "promising medical advances" of 2013, the researchers
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aims to eradicate the
world's most deadly diseases and poverty.
(Editing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Sandra Maler)