HIV Vaccine Research Requires Innovative Ideas, New Scientists, More Funding, Researchers Say
New researchers and innovative ideas are needed to further research on developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine, U.S. scientists wrote in Friday's edition of Science magazine, the AP/Google.com reports. The researchers, including an NIH official, wrote that research should focus on developing a vaccine rather than on clinical trials for medicines that may not be effective. "Design of a vaccine that blocks HIV infection will require enormous intellectual leaps beyond present day knowledge," the researchers wrote.
NIH is looking for "fresh ideas" about developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine and is emphasizing laboratory research to fill knowledge gaps, according to the AP/Google.com. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a Science podcast said that the failure of a Merck vaccine candidate illustrated that researchers "were maybe on the wrong track a bit." He added, "We will be turning the knob, as I like to say, more preferentially toward answering some of the fundamental questions that have gone unanswered." Increased research in chimpanzees will be a priority, although NIAID will continue to support studies in people under raised standards for federal funding, the AP/Google.com reports.
The need for increased resources aimed at vaccine research comes at a time when NIH's budget remains flat, the researchers wrote. They added that if the agency's budget increases in future years, "one of the highest priorities will be to target those additional resources to HIV vaccine programs, particularly vaccine discovery research" (Freking, AP/Google.com, 7/24).
The researchers' comments in Science follow a summit held by NIAID in March, which was held to re-evaluate vaccine research after the failure of the Merck HIV vaccine candidate in September 2007 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/26).
The issue of Science is available online.