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Vaccine to Inhibit HIV

Dec 11, 2008

Hi Dr. Bob,

I just read an article stating that Luc Montagnier, director of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, estimates that it is only a matter of 4-5 years before a therapeutic vaccine is developed to be given to those who already have HIV to inhibit the likeliness of transmission. I was just wondering what your take is on this. Is this true? And if this is true does that mean that a vaccine for those who are not infected or cure would be closer then we think.

Your Canadian friend.. :-) Take Care!!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Well, none of us has an infallible crystal ball that can accurately predict the future, but historically predictions about either a therapeutic or preventative vaccine being just around the corner have proven to be overly optimistic, to say the least! (See below.) All we can do is wait and see and of course hope that Luc Montagnier is correct.

Dr. Bob

More hope for a cure... or not... Mar 18, 2007

Hi Doctor Frascino, What do you think about this new article?

The world could have a new vaccine designed to kill the AIDS virus in as little as three to four years according to an Atlanta-based group working on the vaccine... Click on the link to view the full story...

Thank you very much for all you do!

Response from Dr. Frascino


I would say these predictions are overly optimistic. The vaccine candidate you are referring to has only been preliminarily tested in monkeys so far, to my knowledge. Consequently, before it can be proven to be both safe and effective in humans, much more research will need to be done. Certainly the preliminary results so far do look encouraging, but my guess is that even if it works, the vaccine won't be ready for primetime for at least a decade. We've had many disappointments on our way to developing an effective therapeutic and/or preventative vaccine. Margaret Heckler, Regan's Secretary for Health and Human Services, claimed famously that we would definitely have an effective AIDS vaccine by 1984! You can see how accurate that prediction was! I'll reprint an article from the archives that discusses AIDS vaccines.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Two HIV questions - Transmission and a possible cure?! Feb 25, 2007

Hi Dr! Just had a few questions that didn't seem to have entire threads dedicated to them (or at least none that I could find).

Let's say, I'm just laying there and suddenly, through no fault of my own, there is a quantity of semen that is discharged upon my scantily clad body while Shakira's new remix plays in the background.

Is there a HIV risk associated with semen being ejaculated on one's body? Specifically, if it comes in contact with lips, nips and hips? Regardless if Shakira's hips lie or not...

Secondly, I'd like to reference an article and perhaps get your opinions on it.

This was published Feb 21 and seemed to demonstrate significant progress. Just wanted to see if you had any insight, comments, etc.

Thanks as always!

- Lois Carmen Denominator

Response from Dr. Frascino


You were just laying there and suddenly, through no fault of your own, there was a quantity of semen that was discharged upon your scantily clad body while Shakira's new remix played in the background?????? Hmmm . . . maybe Shakira's hips don't lie, but do you really want me to believe your story? OK, OK, I'll believe you. Millions wouldn't, but I'll believe you! So you were spunked from lips to hips to hips??? Jeez Dude, what were you target practice for an entire rugby team's circle jerk? Or were you perhaps playing Davy Does Dallas? Never mind. Your baby-batter bath is not considered an HIV risk.

Second, the article in Nature describing the computer-generated 3-D image of a neutralizing antibody that might block gp120's ability to link to CD4 cells (a potential Achilles' heel of HIV infection) is indeed newsworthy and promising. However, it's still a very preliminary finding and making a safe and effective preventative or therapeutic vaccine from this information will require many years and a great deal of work before it would be ready for prime time if it really does turn out to work in humans! Don't get me wrong. I was jazzed when I first heard about this, but I'm also a realist and wanted to keep this and other findings in proper perspective. These are only insights and small steps toward AIDS medicine's Holy Grail a preventative vaccine and cure! As the article points out:

"Anyone who knows anything about Aids research knows that the field is littered with false dawns. American politicians promised an effective vaccine within five years of discovering HIV in 1984. British scientists thought that they could develop one within 10 years of being given huge government grants in the early 1990s. And in 1997 President Bill Clinton said he wanted to see an Aids vaccine by 2007 which, of course, has not happened."

Finally, getting back to Shakira's hips, if you really want the "Lois Carmen Denominator," I'd suggest you check out:

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Samir Chachoua (HIV VACCINE) Jul 23, 2008

dr. bob please watch this- do you know this guy???? (Submitted Jul 16, 2008)

This is some youtube posting of the lost cure for cancer and hiv. Please tell me what you think about it.

Thank you. Sebby

Hi Dr. Bob,

Its Sebby again. I sent you that link about the lost cure for hiv/cancer/aids- the youtube link. Even if this true or not- there is one interesting point- Samir claims that the human body cant see cancer or hiv/aids- but he claimed that the human body can see the flu virus- so if in the vaccine he developed you attach particles of hiv/aids to the flu virus - you can actually benefit the body and cause a positive body reaction against hiv. Is there any truth to this at all. Please advise. Sebby

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Sebby,

Many people send me links to "lost cures for HIV/cancer/AIDS." If I were to comment about them all, I wouldn't be able to answer so many other questions, like the closeted rightwing GOP congressman who gets off on barely legal prostitutes with webbed feet and a penchant for narcolepsy. At any rate, the "lost cure" you referenced is just as phony as all the rest. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. If one existed, don't you think I'd be standing in line waiting for my fix? And common sense would dictate that a cure for AIDS would be headline news, not only located on an obscure YouTube link! The HIV/AIDS vaccine story continues to be one of profound disappointment. Another major clinical trial was canceled this week. (See below.)

Dr. Bob

Trial for Vaccine Against H.I.V. Is Canceled

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN Published: July 18, 2008

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. 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." 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." The trial canceled Thursday was supposed to have started enrolling 8,500 volunteers last October to receive the PAVE vaccine, developed by the infectious diseases agency. PAVE is a consortium of federal agencies and key federally financed organizations involved in developing and evaluating experimental H.I.V. vaccines. It seeks to create an effective H.I.V. vaccine that no pharmaceutical company or institution is likely to accomplish on its own.

The PAVE trial had been postponed after a test of the Merck vaccine failed in its two main objectives: to prevent infection and to lower the amount of H.I.V. in the blood among those who became infected. Also, the findings among the 3,000 participants in nine countries in which the Merck vaccine was tested suggested it might have increased the risk of becoming infected.

After a safety monitoring committee detected the problems with the Merck vaccine in September, the company quickly halted its study. Scientists have found no obvious explanation for the failure of the Merck vaccine, which had been considered the most promising candidate.

The Merck vaccine was the first of a new class of H.I.V. vaccines to get to an advanced stage in human testing. The vaccine was made from a weakened version of a common cold virus, adenovirus type 5, which served as a way to deliver three synthetically produced genes gag, pol and nef from the AIDS virus. Three doses of the vaccine were injected over six months.

Scientific analyses found that the highest risk of H.I.V. infection among recipients of the Merck vaccine was in males who both were uncircumcised and had pre-existing antibodies to adenovirus type 5. After the failure of Merck trial, the government reduced the number of potential volunteers to 2,400; they would have included circumcised gay men who had no pre-existing antibodies to adenovirus type 5. The scaled-back study would have cost about $63 million, compared with $140 million for the initial design.

At a news conference in 1984, top federal officials said they were optimistic that a marketable H.I.V. vaccine would be available in three years. Since then, AIDS researchers have been divided about how fast to test experimental vaccines.

Many urge caution out of fear that failures could destroy confidence among uninfected people most at risk who would be needed as volunteers in future trials.

But equally vocal groups call for testing everything as soon as the research shows promise because of the urgent need for a vaccine. In an unrelated development, researchers at Duke University reported new findings Thursday showing that H.I.V. stuns the immune system earlier than scientists previously understood.

The window of opportunity in stopping H.I.V. may be a matter concerning the first few days, not weeks, after the virus enters the body, a team headed by Dr. Barton Haynes reported in The Journal of Virology.

The findings were based on a study of 30 individuals newly infected with H.I.V., and the National Institutes of Health paid for the study.

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