The deeply confused state of HIV vaccine research was underscored by NIAID chief Anthony Fauci's recent decision to halt a planned human trial of an experimental jab. In an interview, Fauci pointed directly to the high-profile failure of Merck's highly touted HIV vaccine candidate as a prime reason for his move to halt plans for a trial. The government vaccine is formulated in a similar way as Merck's, relying on three HIV genes attached to a weakened version of the common cold virus to gain the attention of the human immune system. But that approach may not work at all.
Early announcements in the ‘90s that an HIV vaccine could be created and approved inside 10 years proved woefully off the mark, says Fauci, because most people didn't understand that classic vaccine development methods could not work against this virus.
"We are dealing with a situation where we don't even know if the body is capable of eliciting a protective immune response," Fauci told Scientific American in a wide-ranging article. "And if it can, we know it's very difficult, because when you look at infected people, it is so unusual to see people with very good, broadly reacting neutralizing antibodies. So, when you go after developing a vaccine for HIV, you're in an entirely different ballpark than you are when you're trying to develop a vaccine for influenza or smallpox or polio or measles."
- read the story in Scientific American