The scientists say that a clinical trial of similar design was scheduled to be conducted in the United States by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), the world's largest consortium of AIDS vaccine scientists and clinicians, but was cancelled last year because earlier trials had yielded weak results in terms of immune response to the vaccines.
Vaccines work by inoculating people with a small amount of a virus or portion of a virus to produce an immune response. The vaccine primes the body to recognize and fight the infection should the person be exposed to it in the future.
The Thailand clinical trial seeks to test the effectiveness of a vaccine made from a protein found on the surface of the AIDS virus, called gp120, when given in combination with ALVAC, a vaccine composed of a harmless canarypox virus that carries several genes from HIV. The Thailand trial is a Phase III trial which is designed to see if the combination of vaccines will prevent HIV infection or decrease the severity of the disease. The cost of the trial in Thailand is reported to be $119 million, according to the paper in Science.
The researchers who are critical of the trial praise the National Institutes of Health's investment in basic and applied immunology research during the past 15 years and write that the "cumulative expertise gained should be used when
Contact: George Stamatis
Case Western Reserve University