Trials of NIH HIV Vaccine Candidate Scaled Down After Failure of Merck Vaccine
March 25, 2008
Trials of NIH's Vaccine Research Center's HIV vaccine candidate will be scaled down after the recent failure of a Merck HIV vaccine candidate, Bloomberg reports (Lauerman, Bloomberg, 3/24). Merck in September 2007 announced it had halted a large-scale clinical trial of its experimental HIV vaccine after the drug failed to prevent HIV infection in participants or prove effective in delaying the progression of the virus to AIDS. The vaccine candidate also might have put some trial participants at an increased risk of HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/21).
The new vaccine has features that could make it more effective than the Merck vaccine, according to Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition. PAVE-100 uses DNA that researchers hope will induce cells to produce vaccine-like proteins to generate a protective immune response against HIV. Researchers also are hoping that the cold virus in PAVE-100 will cause a stronger immune response than the cold virus in the Merck vaccine. According to Warren, HIV vaccine trials in the immediate future should focus on answering questions about how such vaccines work as opposed to whether they can prevent HIV transmission. He added that there is "certainly something to learn by advancing PAVE-100."
According to Bloomberg, some researchers have said that the failure of the Merck vaccine has set back HIV vaccine research for years, and many researchers are questioning new trials. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently called for all HIV vaccine research to be stopped. NIAID on Tuesday is expected to hold a meeting with HIV/AIDS researchers to discuss its $497 million HIV vaccine research program. Bruce Walker, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, said the NIAID meeting will aim "to stop and take stock" of HIV vaccine development following the "unanticipated result" of the Merck trials (Bloomberg, 3/24).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.