9th HIV Prevention Workshop hosted by CAPRISA, Ragon Institute, AHRI & HPP
senior and young investigators from across the globe attended the 9th annual HIV prevention workshop, hosted by CAPRISA, the Ragon Institute, AHRI and HPP, held in the tranquillity of the Drakensberg at the Cathedral Peak hotel, on the 12-16th November. The meeting focused on broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) and vaccine research as the field moves towards longer term immune based prevention strategies.
The meeting kicked off with a discussion on achieving the UNAIDS goal of 90-90-90, to achieve epidemic control. This session included discussion around the need to improve ART access to males to prevent HIV transmission to young females (Quarraisha Abdool Karim), to better implement test and treat strategies (Mark Siedner), the epidemiological pathways of HIV transmission (Frank Tanser), and some enlightening and worrying findings about the lack of uptake of ART in young women, even though they understood the risks of HIV (Krista Dong).
The other three sessions of the day focussed on host and epigenetics, strategies and models of HIV vaccine and cure research, and tissue-specific HIV infection and the role this plays in prevention and cure strategies.
Notable talks included how epigenetics can be used to determine the regulation of mucosal immunity (Paul Mclaren) and how transcriptomics can be used to assess risk of HIV acquisition (Lyle Mckinnon), how CD8+ T cells can migrate against blood flow to perform antiviral activity (Uli Von Andrian), and how gut CD4+ T cells are irreversibly depleted (Hendrik Kløverpris). Tom Hope delivered a visually stimulating talk on how antibodies and viruses are distributed in the body using a macaque model and ground-breaking microscopy techniques.
The sessions on bNAbs and vaccines focussed on antibody structure and the impact on vaccine design; how to target HIV reservoirs as well as HIV eradication and cure.
Notable talks included the importance of priming during vaccine trials to elicit bNAbs (Bill Schief); the conformational changes of HIV envelope during receptor or antibody binding (Pamela Bjorkman); the central nervous system (Alex Sigal) and lymph nodes (Zaza Ndhlovu) as reservoir sites and their role in viral evolution and escape during ART; and the role of viral evolution and diversity in latency establishment (Melissa-Rose Abrahams, Kavidha Reddy, Kamini Gounder and Jaclyn Mann), and bNAb development (Bongiwe Ndlovu).
The final session focused on future HIV prevention strategies. Talks included the use of bNAbs as PrEP and the use of innate stimulants for the reversion and eradication of HIV latency (Dan Barouch); the potential use of monkey bNAbs in passive immunisation and the benefits of the primate models (Mario Roederer); the modification of bNAbs for improved efficacy (Lucio Gama); and the hurdles faced with the use of bNAbs (Mohammad Sajadi).
Delegates were treated to a welcome respite from the scientific discussions with an amazing array of activities that included a guided hike, a guided quad bike tour, a zip line canopy tour, and a helicopter ride to Cathedral Peak. Delegates left the meeting inspired by novel ideas.