Australian AIDS vaccine researchers will be among scientists from 19 countries to benefit from a $382 million grant from billionaire Bill Gates and wife Melinda’s philanthropic organisation.The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made the massive funding announcement this week to speed research into an HIV vaccine.The grant, made up of 16 different donations, will help more than 165 researchers from 19 countries in their search for a vaccine.An HIV vaccine is our best long-term hope for controlling the global AIDS epidemic, but it has proven to be a tremendously difficult scientific challenge, Gates Foundation HIV adviser Dr Jos?sparza said.We have all been frustrated by the slow pace of progress in HIV vaccine development, yet breakthroughs are achievable if we aggressively pursue scientific leads and work together in new ways.The Gates Foundation hopes the multi-million dollar grant, known as the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery, allows researchers to collaborate rather than work separately.These projects bring a new level of creativity and intensity to bear on major scientific challenges facing HIV vaccine development, Dr Nicholas Hellmann, another Gates Foundation HIV expert, said.Some of the vaccine concepts that will be pursued have been talked about for years, but have never been adequately studied.If successful, they could lead to entirely new paradigms for HIV vaccine development.Countries to benefit from the funding pledge include India and South Africa, the nations with the highest numbers of HIV-positive people in the world.

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