01-12-2013

World AIDS Day and research on HIV in Catalonia

Today, December 1st, we celebrate the World AIDS Day. Related to this event, it is interesting to know the research that is being carried out on vaccines against HIV in Catalonia through the HIVACAT program.

As we discussed in a recent entry (14-10-13) on occasion of the World Congress on AIDS vaccine, AIDS Vaccine 2013, Catalonia has a large critical mass of researchers who do quality research in this area. Among the leaders , the public-private consortium HIVACAT integrates two prestigious research centers , the IrsiCaixa Institute for Research on AIDS and the Infectious Diseases and AIDS IDIBAPS / Hospital Clinic of Barcelona team, in collaboration with Esteve and supported by Obra Social “La Caixa”, the Government of Catalonia and the Clínic Foundation. The program is co-directed by Dr. Bonaventura Clotet (IrsiCaixa) and by Dr. Josep Maria Gatell  (Hospital Clínic).

The HIVACAT research programme is structured around 8 areas of research, including the description of markers related to the control of the infection, the study of HIV diversity and its effects on immune response, the analysis of HIV entry mechanisms in target cells, and the development of new substances capable of acting as vaccines. Some of them are therapeutic vaccines, they induce an immune response in infected individuals to control virus replication. In recent years, researchers have found some therapeutic vaccine candidates that have been already tested in humans, with promising results. But researchers at HIVACAT are also working on prophylactic vaccines, which could be used to prevent infection.

Despite these success, research on HIV is in danger if funding is lacking, as Dr. Clotet warned yesterday in statements made to El Punt/Avui . According to Dr. Clotet “3.5 million euro will be required to advance in the most promising projects”. Where will these funds come from? Probably, public investment will not be sufficient. This is why HIVACAT encourages civil society to make donations. From one euro, one can to contribute to finance the development of a low cost HIV vaccine, easily accessible to all sectors of the population.

Marta Alegret (Universitat de Barcelona)

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