Beyond the huge public health implications, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is now threatening economic growth and national security in many countries, with worldwide implications. Although highly effective drug therapies have been a major breakthrough, the limitations of life-long continuous treatment are becoming apparent and these therapies are limited to patients with access to these drugs. Prophylactic vaccines are not expected to be available before 2010 and could only control infection. Hence the needs to develop Therapeutic Immunizations, which can boost the patients' own specific immune response to help control vire replication. Immunization with such a vaccine is an attractive strategy for treatment as it is simple, feasible on a global scale, and can be combined with drug therapy.
The Commission has recognized this and has made support available for European research in this field, but much of the expertise and intellectual capital is concentrated in large institutes in the USA. There is now a rare opportunity to attract a world-level expert, currently working in the USA, back to Europe to lead a European expertise centre on HIV infections. Prof Lisziewicz has worked at NIH with dr Gallo, one of the discoverers of the HIV virus, has established a leading Research Institute and is Professor at the renowned Georgetown University. Her grouphas developed an innovative therapeutic immunization program, which has been demonstrated in monkeys to work, and is now ready for the first clinical trials in patients. She has already established a small consortium to carry out immunological research, a clinical trial and obviously this program has even commercial exploitation potential.
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