New Delhi: Researchers across the world are going back to the basics in their search for an AIDS vaccine after one of the largest clinical studies in pursuit of a preventive failed to deliver an effective combatant.
The marginal success of the Thailand trial has, however, given hope that a vaccine against HIV is possible.
“We are bolstering our commitment to the basic laboratory research that provides a foundation for future vaccine development,” said a statement released by the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to mark HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, 18 May.
Since the Thai trials and the two antibodies that neutralize diverse HIV strains were discovered last year, the scientific community has been able to understand what will not work. Simultaneously, there has been a shift to developing vaccines based on protein replicas of targets that the neutralizing antibodies disable.
It is quite likely that the virus that enters the body has nothing to do with the one reassembled inside it, said V.S. Chauhan, director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Delhi. “So you can get a huge response against one virus, but that will do nothing to the reassembled virus.”
In India, there are two groups directly working on designing immunogenecity for the possibility of broadly neutralizing antibodies.
“Our efforts are now moving into the early science area. As the clinical trial pipeline is drying up, there is a need to start making efforts in the pre-clinical and applied research area,” said Rajat Goyal, country director of International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the largest organization supporting a worldwide move in this space.