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Vaccine Breakthrough Comes With Caveats

Summer 2011

One of the main sources of pessimism about prospects for an effective HIV vaccine has been the generally poor results obtained in animal models. In particular, a stringent system involving rhesus macaque monkeys challenged with highly pathogenic simian cousins of HIV (SIVmac239 or SIVmac251) has proven too stern a test for many vaccines -- even those once considered promising like Merck's now-discontinued candidate. To date, only a live attenuated SIV (simian immunodefiency virus) vaccine has demonstrated significant efficacy against these challenge viruses, and this approach is too dangerous to be adapted for use in humans.

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