23 October 2012

Aids council calls for more funding

The SA National Aids Council (Sanac) called for more funding as a team of scientists announced a significant development in the search for an Aids vaccine.


The SA National Aids Council (Sanac) called for more funding on Monday as a team of scientists announced a significant development in the search for an Aids vaccine.

"We need long-term investment in scientific research," Sanac CEO Fareed Abdullah told reporters in Johannesburg. "Foreign donors have been supporting these projects and I think it is time for the same level of domestic investment."

Antibodies kill 88% of virus

A team of scientists from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA (Caprisa), said they had found the immune systems of two women living with the HI-Virus were able to produce antibodies which could neutralise and kill 88% of the virus.

Blood samples had been taken from the women at regular intervals over several years. Their antibodies were also tested against 200 other viruses from across the world and were found able to neutralise these as well.

The scientists said an understanding of how these antibodies developed could help in the development of an HIV vaccine.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi praised the scientists for their work and said the HIV vaccine should come from South Africa.

"It would be a sad day if the vaccine came from anywhere else but this country. The knowledge comes from here and I think the vaccine should come from South Africa too."

The funders of the project include USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the department of science and technology.

Caprisa director Prof Salim Karim said the government contributed R80 million a year to HIV/Aids funding. The United States contributed R1 billion.

The research team was led by NICD scientists Dr Penny Moore and Professor Lynn Morris.

"Broadly, neutralising antibodies are considered to be the key to making a vaccine. The world needs an effective vaccine to overcome the global scourge of Aids," said Morris.

Karim said the research work done so far would not be patented.

The work belonged to the world, he said.

(Sapa, October 2012)

Read more:

 Antibodies kill 88% of HIV virus


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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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