HIV vaccine could use a little help


Unexpected results of recent HIV vaccine human clinical trials are challenging our understanding on many facets of vaccine biology. In a Phase IIB clinical trial, a Merck Ad5 trivalent vaccine has surprisingly failed to provide any protection against the acquisition of HIV infection or suppression of post-infection viremia levels despite having had strongest preclinical data and received enthusiastic support from scientists and clinicians alike. By contrast, ALVAC (a recombinant canarypox vector vaccine) and rgp120 vaccines that had only weak immunogenicity when tested alone, and faced strong disapproval for going into a Phase III clinical trial with their combination have demonstrated a modest level of protection against HIV acquisition. Although the precise correlates of protection against HIV are still debated, some consensus opinions start to emerge. In the paper, we focus on reviewing the importance of CD4+ T helper cells and past experience of HIV vaccine clinical trials, as well as making some projections on the future development in HIV vaccine research field.

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HIV vaccine could use a little help