A NEWLY-launched global project will see researchers and scientists from around the world working together to search for a HIV vaccine.

The European AIDS Vaccine Initiative (EAVI2020) is a $30 million project funded by the European Commission that will bring together a team from public organisations and biotech companies from across Australia, Europe, Canada, and the US.

In Australia, scientists from UNSW’s Kirby Institute and Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute will take part in the initiative.

Kirby Institute’s Professor Anthony Kelleher believes the project will help advance the development of a vaccine.

“Despite all the stunning improvements in the treatment of HIV infection and the promising advances in the prevention of HIV transmission, the most cost effective and reliable means of preventing transmission of HIV remains an effective vaccine,” he told the Star Observer.

“The EAVI Horizon 2020 grant represents a great opportunity to extend and consolidate existing collaborations in HIV vaccine research.”

Kelleher said the project will allow expert researchers to exchange information and work in collaboration.

“It will give the Australian researchers an opportunity to engage in the free exchange of cutting ideas for vaccine design, provide a pipeline for the rapid pre-clinical and clearly phase clinical testing of their most promising constructs, and allow access to expertise for in-depth study of the immune responses these vaccines induce,” he said.

“It represents a terrific opportunity to rapidly advance the development of a HIV vaccine.”

According to the World Health Organisation, around 35 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2013 and over two million people are newly diagnosed every year.

While researchers have been working on developing a vaccine for 30 years, the intent of this project is to speed up the process.

Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin believes in order to achieve progress, collaboration is necessary.

“Great advances in science and medicine all need teamwork,” she said.

“This collaboration will allow us to work with the best people, using the best technologies to build on the enormous scientific progress that has been gleaned over the last few years.

“We’ll be taking the latest discoveries from the lab through to preclinical testing and manufacture and into early human trials more quickly than we could ever do in isolation from each other.”

EAVI2020 is funded with an EU grant under the health program of Horizon 2020 for research and innovation.

On World AIDS Day, Living Positive Victoria will run a mini AIDS 2014-style conference that will be hosted at the Doherty Institute.

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