Vaccinomics--the application of genomics and bioinformatics to vaccine development--is bringing a fresh approach to the Herculean problem of making vaccines against the various HIV-1 subtypes, or clades, spread around the world. With vaccinomics, says Annie De Groot, CEO of EpiVax, a young vaccine development company in Providence, R.I., a single vaccine against all HIV clades may be feasible.

Her opinion is an about-face pivot from the current pursuit of HIV vaccines one clade at a time. An all-clade vaccine isn't generally considered practical because of high variability of HIV proteins between clades. Within a clade, envelope gene sequences vary by 7-12 percent; between them, differences increase considerably. Clade B, the predominant American and European subtype, varies from Thailand's clade E by 15-20 percent. Similar differences separate the A, C, and D clades of sub-Saharan Africa. The implication is that a vaccine against one clade won't protect very well against...

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