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Remune Controversy Articles

By John S. James

May 31, 2002

Note: As we went to press the San Diego Union published an in-depth look at the Remune controversy. See "Time Running Out for Salk-Backed AIDS Vaccine" by Penni Crabtree, June 2, 2002, (you can search for Remune in recent articles, and in archives).

Activist David Scondras of Search for a Cure in Boston has published a short article for general readers on why research on Remune -- the AIDS immunogen designed about 15 years ago by Dr. Jonas Salk -- should continue. Remune has become controversial in scientific circles, with a majority view that it does not work and we should move on. But some leading HIV researchers strongly believe that further studies are important, because of opportunities to answer questions about immune-based therapy and vaccine science now. Because of the financial situation of the developer, the Immune Response Corporation, the future of the research is uncertain, and at least one human trial has already been stopped.

We do not have our own views on the scientific questions. But we are concerned that the intense emotions swirling around this issue could lead to poor decisions. The public has not known that top researchers have feared that important studies may be dropped.

From Scondras' article:

"Remune, invented by the late Jonas Salk in 1987 in collaboration with Dr. Dennis Carlo of the Immune Response Corporation of San Diego, was tested in Spain for four years on people with HIV. On July 27, 2001, a group of scientists headed up by the internationally respected Dr. Joep Lange, looked at the results of the four year study of 242 HIV infected people. They found that those people who got Remune were 37% less likely to fail their medicines than those who did not. This is the first time a vaccine proved it can help the body keep the amount of virus down.

"More recently, in March of this year, Peter M. Silvera, Ph.D., of the Southern Research Institute in Frederick, Maryland, showed that Remune when given with a fancy adjuvant called CpG causes uninfected monkeys to develop two key immune responses against HIV -- antibody and t-cell responses.

"Even more recently, data from the studies of Drs. Eric Rosenberg and Bruce Walker of Massachusetts General Hospital, shows that all of the people in their study who took Remune developed strong anti HIV immune responses during a planned treatment interruption, while none of the people who only took antiviral medicine developed these responses. And Dr. Fred Valentine of New York University has also tested Remune and shown that it gives infected people new immune responses against HIV.

"Taken together, these findings suggest that Remune is a good candidate to test on a large scale as a preventive vaccine, as well as a therapy for HIV.

"Unfortunately, without money it won't happen.

"Dr. Peter Salk, of the Jonas Salk foundation feels it would be a 'significant loss' to not test the vaccine further..."

The full article, "Our Best Shot," by David Scondras, is available at, and also here.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2002 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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