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2 Gates AIDS Donations: $287 Million for Vaccine; $900,000 for HIV Training Facility
  Gates Foundation Donates $287 Million for AIDS Research The grants aim to develop collaborative vaccine efforts involving many labs and nations.
By Thomas H. Maugh II, LA Times Staff Writer
July 20, 2006
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday a $287-million donation to fund AIDS vaccine research and establish an international network focused on vaccine development.
The main goal of the 16 grants is to shift the development process from independent efforts in separate laboratories to large-scale collaborative efforts involving many labs and countries.
"Traditional ways of making vaccines, which have worked well against other diseases, have largely failed for HIV," said Dr. Giuseppe Pantaleo of the Vaudois University Hospital Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the grantees. "Success will require bold new scientific approaches."
Eleven of the grants, totaling $195 million, are for multinational projects to improve the ability of potential vaccines to stimulate the two kinds of immunity: The first would elicit antibodies that attack HIV; the second would stimulate a cellular response that destroys infected cells before viruses reproduce.
Pantaleo and others, for example, will try to modify existing vaccine candidates based on poxviruses so that they provoke a stronger immune response.
"A vaccine that would provide as much as 60% efficacy would make a huge impact on the HIV epidemic," said Dr. M. Juliana McElrath of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, another grantee.
Nearly 100 AIDS vaccine candidates are now in trials around the world, but experts say none is likely to provide significant protection against the virus.
The other five grants, totaling $92 million, are for establishing central laboratories to enhance collaboration among the researchers.
Three laboratory networks - at Duke University, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Washington - will measure immune responses provoked by vaccine candidates, allowing for the first time a direct comparison among the approaches. A fourth laboratory will provide a repository in Germany for research specimens, and the fifth at the Hutchinson site will serve as a data and statistical management center for the networks.
Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, welcomed the Gates funds, but said much more money was needed.
His group reported that $682 million was spent worldwide on AIDS vaccine research in 2004, the latest year for which figures are available. The group estimates about $1 billion per year is needed.
The Gates Foundation has now donated more than $6 billion to global health, including $1.5 billion for the development of vaccines for malaria and other diseases.
Last month, financier Warren E. Buffett announced he would donate an estimated $31 billion to the Gates Foundation, bringing its total endowment to more than $60 billion.
Gates makes donation to African AIDS war
Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:57am ET172
KIGALI (Reuters) - Microsoft founder Bill Gates has donated $900,000 to set up a training facility for health professionals working with AIDS in Africa's Great Lakes region. On a low-profile visit to Rwanda on Sunday and Monday, Gates offered the funds to set up the Center for Training and Operation Research to serve five nations: Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Such support from well-wishers will go a long way in helping developing countries achieve much in the war against the scourge," Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, executive secretary of Rwanda's National Aids Commission, said late on Wednesday.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region hardest-hit by AIDS, with about 25 million people infected. Binagwaho told Reuters 3 percent of Rwanda's 8 million people had HIV.
The ultra-modern facility will be run from Kigali by international experts under the coordination of Rwanda's AIDS Treatment and Research Center, the official added.
Gates, the world's wealthiest man and a major international philanthropist, was in Africa on a holiday with his wife Melinda and children, Rwandan officials said.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Wednesday grants worth $287 million to create an international network of 16 labs to try new approaches for making a vaccine against AIDS.
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