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AIDS Vaccine May Be Within Reach

An estimated 34 million people are infected with HIV worldwide. Experts believe a vaccine is the best hope for eradicating the disease.

Most of the current investigational vaccines are designed to train immune-system T cells to recognize and kill cells already infected with HIV. Scientists are also working on advanced vaccines that activate antibodies to prevent HIV from infecting cells in the first place. Both types of vaccine would be administered before a person becomes exposed to the disease.

Preparations are under way to study an investigational vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline, combined with a boosting agent from Norvartis, in heterosexuals in South Africa and in homosexual men in Thailand. Large-scale effectiveness trials aren’t expected to begin until 2016.

Another vaccine is being developed by Johnson & Johnson, Harvard University, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. A report published in February showed that the new vaccine, consisting of weakened versions of a common cold virus and a smallpox virus, was able to protect monkeys from a virulent strain of HIV. Like the GSK/Novartis trial, large-scale efficacy studies aren’t expected until 2016.

Dr. Barton Haynes, of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, will review the current status of HIV vaccine research at the International AIDS Society's 2012 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C. on July 22–27.

Read the news story from Reuters.

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