Moving Forward in HIV Vaccine Development

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Science  27 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5957, pp. 1196-1198
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183278

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Early in the AIDS epidemic, efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV infection were focused on two vaccine strategies. It was hoped that the HIV envelope glycoprotein (gp120) would generate an antibody response that would block the initiation of HIV infections, and that a recombinant canary pox construct expressing HIV genes would elicit cellular immune responses that would inhibit HIV replication. However, the nature of the immune responses elicited by each of these vaccine candidates in monkeys and human subjects proved disappointing (13). Despite these results, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) proceeded with plans to initiate the RV144 trial in Thailand to test the efficacy of a vaccine regimen that included both agents. At that time, the U.S. National Institutes of Health assumed responsibility for a major component of the DOD HIV/AIDS program, and provided a substantial proportion of the funding for the Thai trial.