New Book Details ‘Tragicomic’ Search for AIDS Vaccine
The San Francisco Chronicle yesterday profiled medical journalist Patricia Thomas' new book "Big Shot: Passion, Politics and the Struggle for an AIDS Vaccine," which outlines the "tragicomic" history of the search for an AIDS vaccine. The book begins by discussing the "rival" vaccine efforts of the biotechnology companies Genentech and Chiron, which failed to win government funding for AIDS vaccine trials in 1994. In 1995, AIDS epidemiologist Donald Francis "convince[d]" Genentech to allow him to create VaxGen to develop an AIDS vaccine. VaxGen eventually developed AIDSVAX, which is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials in the United States and Thailand. Evaluation of the effects of AIDSVAX among U.S. participants should be completed by late 2002, and the Thai study is nine months behind the U.S. trial. Meanwhile, Wall Street is "taking notice" of VaxGen, the Chronicle reports. UBS Warburg analyst Geoffrey Harris said that VaxGen is four years ahead of its closest rivals and stands a "reasonable chance" of finding a successful vaccine (Abate, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.