February 19, 2008
During the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on Thursday in Boston, AAAS President David Baltimore said scientists are no closer to developing an HIV vaccine than they were when vaccine research began, BBC News reports (Briggs, BBC News, 2/15).
Baltimore, a biology professor at the California Institute of Technology, said some scientists have begun to openly discuss the possibility of never developing an HIV vaccine because of the virus's ability to weaken the body's immune system while it progresses to AIDS (Connor, Independent, 2/15). "This is a huge challenge because to control HIV immunologically, the scientific community has to beat out nature," Baltimore said (BBC News, 2/15).
Baltimore added that the HIV vaccine development community is "depressed" after recent failed attempts to develop a vaccine but said that will not halt HIV vaccine research. The HIV vaccine community needs to begin "thinking about [vaccine development] in a very different way," he said, adding that scientists are beginning "trendy and difficult" research involving gene therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell therapy (Independent, 2/15). He added that researchers are trying to "design vectors that can carry genes that will be of therapeutic advantage" (BBC News, 2/15).
Baltimore said he is not "prepared" to say that an HIV vaccine will never be developed because he does not want to "take a pessimistic stance. I want to take an optimistic stance and say this is too important to give up on" (Independent, 2/15).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.