The HIVACAT research programme is structured around 8 areas of research which aim to tackle existing obstacles to the development of HIV vaccines, both preventative, that is to say to prevent HIV infection, and therapeutic, to stop the disease from spreading.
On one hand, research is centred on the description of markers related to the control of the infection and the study of HIV diversity around the planet, and its effects on immune responses in the local population. On the other hand, it examines HIV entry mechanisms in target cells, and the development of new substances capable of inducing immune response (immunogens) that function as independently as possible from the genetic makeup of each individual. Finally, tests of candidate vaccines are to be carried out as part of pilot clinical studies.
In recent years, HIVACAT researchers have produced a number of therapeutic vaccine candidates which are currently at an advanced stage of development (clinical trials in phases I and II). However, the main objective in the next 4 years is to design new prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine candidates.
ESTEVE collaborates with the basic research, and will assume a more intensive role in the research process at the testing stage of the vaccine on people, taking over the subsequent clinical development and marketing of the product.
These research areas are reinforced by a transversal platform for the validation of experimental techniques between participating centres and also include multiple collaborations between other national and international research groups in the context of a “global initiative” in order to find an effective vaccine. Researchers at these institutions are currently widening their activities to include more regions in the world, including clinics in South Africa, central Africa and also Peru, where a number of studies have been in progress for several years.