07MOSCOW3429, RUSSIA: HIV VACCINE RESEARCHERS LOOK AHEAD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3429 2007-07-13 10:06 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1695
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMO #3429/01 1941006
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131006Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2057
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 5425
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS 3104
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2553
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2247
RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003429 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR OES/IHA AND EUR/RUS 
USAID FOR GH, E&E 
HHS FOR OGHA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO KHIV SOCI SCUL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: HIV VACCINE RESEARCHERS LOOK AHEAD 
 
MOSCOW 00003429  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.  NOT FOR INTERNET 
DISTRIBUTION. 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  The NIH-sponsored HIV Vaccine Workshop in St. 
Petersburg June 1-2 brought together over 50 researchers and 
government representatives from the United States and Europe to 
discuss recent HIV candidate vaccines and the prospects for clinical 
vaccine trials in Eastern Europe.  Significantly, Russia's three 
main vaccine research groups engaged in serious collaborative 
discussions, after years of intense rivalries and mutual mistrust. 
The workshop served as a useful framework to guide research funding 
and clinical trial decisions in Eastern Europe over the next five 
years.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) The agenda for the workshop sponsored by the U.S. National 
Institutes of Health (NIH), "Status of HIV Vaccine Research: An 
Exploratory Workshop on Perspectives and Potential for HIV Vaccine 
Development" included sessions on: 
 
-- Development of a vaccine research agenda, from basic research and 
discovery of vaccine candidates to clinical trials; 
 
-- The predominant strains of HIV circulating in Eastern Europe and 
Russia, and whether to match regional strains to the development of 
regional vaccines; 
 
-- An overview of HIV candidate vaccines, including DNA, protein, 
pox virus vector, and combination vaccines; and 
 
-- The prospects for clinical trials in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and 
the Baltic Countries. 
 
3. (U) At the opening of the workshop, Oleg Chestnov, Deputy 
Director of the Russian Health and Social Development Ministry's 
International Department, suggested that participants engage in 
dialogue on common approaches and plans for vaccine development.  At 
the workshop's conclusion, participants proposed a series of 
recommendations for future collaboration, including: 
 
-- Formation of a working group to organize annual vaccine research 
workshops and lead an effort to develop a National HIV Vaccine 
Plan; 
 
-- Formation of a regional research network and improved linkages 
with international initiatives like the Global HIV/AIDS Vaccine 
Enterprise; 
 
-- Developing capacity in Russia and the region for conducting 
cohort studies, updating laboratory technologies and testing of 
biological products, and regulatory review of clinical trials; 
 
-- Involvement of the community of people living with HIV/AIDS and 
development of appropriate guidelines for ethical conduct of vaccine 
trials. 
 
(NOTE: While these are all laudable goals, it is unclear who would 
be willing and able to fund and coordinate these activities. END 
NOTE) 
 
Comment: Bringing Intense Rivals Together 
----------------------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) For years, intense rivalries between HIV vaccine 
researchers in St. Petersburg and scientists from Russia's other 
main research centers in Moscow and Novosibirsk have hampered 
collaborative research.  It was a significant step that all three 
groups attended the NIH-sponsored workshop.  At other recent 
scientific conferences or meetings with the Russian Duma, at least 
one of the groups has chosen not to attend, often to deliberately 
snub the others.  These researchers have also offered competing 
visions of HIV vaccine research.  Backed by Rector Verbitskaya of 
St. Petersburg State University, the St. Petersburg group has 
proposed that Russia's northern capital serve as the hub for all HIV 
vaccine research, while the Moscow and Novosibirsk groups have 
supported Chief Medical Officer Onishchenko's plan to establish a 
larger consortium of institutes across Russia that would 
collectively conduct this research. 
 
5. (SBU) In a significant moment of detente, Dr. Andrey Kozlov, the 
Director of the St. Petersburg Biomedical Institute and the only 
Russian scientist currently using a multidisciplinary approach in 
 
MOSCOW 00003429  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
HIV research, announced that he was willing to help other 
researchers develop cohorts of patients for vaccine trials. 
Although we suspect Kozlov may ultimately be more interested in 
helping researchers in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine rather than 
researchers in Moscow or Novosibirsk, he at least offered the olive 
branch to his Russian rivals. 
 
6. (SBU) During its G8 Presidency in 2006, Russia pledged to spend 
$65 million on HIV vaccine research.  Although no official 
announcement is expected until August, our contacts state that the 
State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (Vector) near 
Novosibirsk (under the jurisdiction of Chief Medical Officer 
Onishchenko) will get the lion's share, receiving $40 million over 
the next three years to conduct HIV vaccine research.  St. 
Peter
sburg and Moscow researchers will likely only receive $20 
million and $7 million, respectively, although the St. Petersburg 
group is now heavily lobbying the government to receive a larger 
share.  One Vector researcher told us that even though the Siberian 
institute will receive the biggest chunk of money, it will be 
funding cohort development and clinical trials throughout Russia. 
The NIH-sponsored workshop thus served to focus the attention of 
Russia's leading scientists on how best to allocate research dollars 
in coming years. 
 
7. (U) NIH has cleared this cable. 
 
BURNS

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