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July 19, 2006 at 2:37 PM

A new method to fight HIV?

The Gates Foundation said today it is funding a “highly collaborative” network of 16 research teams around the world to tackle challenges of designing a vaccine to protect against HIV, hoping the global cooperation and $287 million in new funding will accelerate development.

Most of the research so far has been done by small teams working independently, an approach that has resulted in frustratingly slow progress, said Dr. Jose Esparza, senior advisor on HIV vaccines at the Gates Foundation. Esparza said he thinks breakthroughs can be achieved by “working together in new ways.”

Among the 165 investigators in 19 countries who will tackle the vaccine design problem is Leo Stamatatos of the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, a lead investigator on the Gates grant who uses computational biology to create new designs. He has enlisted the help of University of Washington and individuals around the world to donate computing power to the project when their computers are idle.

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