Scientist Calls on Researchers To Focus on Basic Science Research in HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development
Dr. Ron Desrosiers, a professor from Harvard Medical School, on Tuesday at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in San Francisco called on AIDS vaccine researchers to focus research efforts on basic science questions about the interaction of HIV and the human immune system, the Wall Street Journal reports. Vaccine researchers have focused on developing more vaccine candidates for testing rather than on basic science, according to the Journal. "There is ample evidence to indicate that development of an effective vaccine for HIV-1 will be extremely difficult," Desrosiers said, adding that current vaccine models likely will fail because of HIV's "escape strategies." These strategies include the virus's ability to mutate frequently, resist the immune system's neutralizing antibodies and "hide" from the immune system by integrating into human cells and switching to a "latent" phase before reactivating and replicating itself, according to the Journal. As a result, a vaccine will have to "generate superior response to the natural immune response" in order to be effective at preventing HIV/AIDS. Dennis Burton, a professor at La Jolla, Calif.-based Scripps Research Institute, said that the classic vaccine strategy of attempting to mimic the human immune system is "not the best way." Lawrence Corey, head of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, defended the current vaccine development process but added that experiments need to be conducted "in a helluva lot quicker way" (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 2/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.