Oy vey! Yet another episode of NY Times and its faithful scribe, Altman, discussing the latest of many hideous, continued, epic, sustained failures in the field of vaccine research.
Plans for a large human trial of a promising government-developed H.I.V. vaccine in the United States were canceled Thursday because a top federal official said scientists realized that they did not know enough about how H.I.V. vaccines and the immune system interact.
The decision is a major setback in an effort to develop an H.I.V. vaccine that began 24 years ago when government health officials promised a marketed vaccine by 1987. Health officials have long contended that such a vaccine would be their best weapon to control the AIDS pandemic.
A number of other H.I.V. vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world. But there had been high hopes for the government’s trial because the potential vaccine was among a new class that sought to stimulate the immune system in a different way
A number of other H.I.V. vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world. But there had been high hopes for the government’s trial because the potential vaccine was among a new class that sought to stimulate the immune system in a different way.
The official who canceled the government trial, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was becoming clearer that more fundamental research and animal testing would be needed before an H.I.V. vaccine was ever marketed.
Scientists say that developing a vaccine against H.I.V. is one of the most difficult scientific endeavors in history because of the uncanny nature of the virus.
The government vaccine — known as PAVE, for Partnership for AIDS Vaccine Evaluation — was similar to a much-heralded vaccine that failed last year. That vaccine was developed by Merck, and Dr. Fauci’s agency helped pay for the Merck trials.
Dr. Fauci said he reached his decision to cancel the coming trial after meeting with scientists to try to understand why the Merck vaccine had failed. He said he had concluded that scientists must go a step at a time because they did not yet know fundamental facts like which immune reactions are the most important in preventing the infection.
Dr. Fauci said the new trial was intended to determine whether the vaccine could significantly lower the amount of H.I.V. in the blood of those who become infected. He said a smaller trial was needed to figure out whether the vaccine could do that before large trials were conducted.
“Show me that the vaccine works by lowering the amount of H.I.V. in the blood,” Dr. Fauci said. “Then we will move to a larger trial that will document the link with a particular immune response.” He added that until then, “doing a large trial is not justified.”'
Is he joking? They don't find any HIV in the blood. That's why they use all these bogus surrogate markers (unspecific antibodies, white blood cell counts, dna fragments)for the intrepid virus. Culture the virus, and measure the titer!
Dr. Alan Bernstein, executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, said that his organization supported Dr. Fauci’s decision and that there was an “urgent need for a diversity of new approaches to H.I.V. vaccine design.”
For instance, Dr. Bernstein said, recent laboratory advances, which allow scientists to look at hundreds of genes simultaneously, “offer immense promise in helping us understand how to design new H.I.V. vaccine candidates that can achieve long-lasting immune protection.”