French professor Erwann Loret works on samples of a vaccine against AIDS in his laboratory in Marseille January 29, 2013. Clinical trials of a vaccine against the AIDS virus (HIV-1) will begin in February in Marseille with forty-eight infected volunteers, the Public Assistance Hospitals of Marseille (AP-HM) announced today. (Photo : REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier )
Proponents for the proliferation of HIV vaccines took another hit today, as the National Institute of Health (NIH) have put a halt to an HIV clinical trial because of its ineffectiveness in curing the disease.
The trial, known as HVTN 505, began in 2009 and involved more than 2500 participants. The trial does not appear to have prevent or even curb the disease's prevalence in the population of HIV infected participants who were administered the vaccine.
"This trial has provided a clear, swift answer about a specific vaccine strategy. It's not the answer we hoped for, but the search doesn't end here," says Mitchell Warren, executive director of the nonprofit group AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention. "Researchers need to unpack the data from this trial to understand more about why this strategy didn't prevent infection."
The Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) performed a review of the treatment on April 22, and soon after decided to immediately halt future work. The vaccine was so ineffective, that participants who were given a placebo instead of the vaccine actually fared better.
"Additionally, the DSMB found that the vaccine failed to reduce viral load among volunteers who acquired HIV infection at least 28 weeks after entering the study and who had been followed for at least 20 weeks after diagnosis," the NIH said in the statement.
There has been a lot of research done in the area of HIV/AIDS treatment lately, and large strides have been made. A baby has already been cured of the disease as well as a handful of other people. Promising trials for other vaccines are also in the works, and many remain hopeful for future success.
"These results do not change the fundamental view that an AIDS vaccine remains critical to any long-term strategy to end the AIDS epidemic," says Matthew Rose, a vaccine advocate for AVAC who participated in the study.