With World Aids Day approaching on December 1st comes the news that an HIV vaccine developed my Merck has failed a clinical trial in the US.
The vaccine had been designed to trigger a protective response by "killer" cytotoxic T-cells, white blood cells that are a key element of the immune system. But while it proved sucessful in simian trials, the human trial was called off early in July, when MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag/pol/nef totally failed to protect against the virus in the 3000 strong human sample.
While this is one set back on the "long road" to finding a solution Professor Robin Shattock, an infexction expert from St George's, University of London, said:
"While the results of this trial were disappointing, this study was still an important step in determining what is required for an HIV vaccine.
"We now know that the vaccine approach tested in this trial produced a response against too few viral targets using only one aspect of the immune response — cytotoxic T-cells."