Source: Los Angeles Times
By: Healy, Melissa
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has announced that the clinical trial of the HVTN 505 vaccine has been shut down because an independent panel of safety experts found that volunteers given the vaccine were slightly more likely to contract HIV than those receiving the placebo. Researchers will inform the nearly 2,500 study participants—all men or transgender people who have sex with men—whether they received the vaccine or the placebo. Earlier, smaller trials indicated that the vaccine generated an immune response to HIV and appeared to be safe, and even though the higher infection risk in the larger study could have been a matter of chance, the data did not show that the vaccine would ultimately reduce HIV infection risks or suppress the replication of HIV in people infected with the virus. Forty-one of the 1,250 volunteers who received the vaccine and 30 of the 1,244 volunteers who received the placebo became infected with HIV; 14 of the 23 participants infected in the first 28 weeks of the study had received the vaccine. Although the news is a disappointment to researchers, Dr. Scott Hammer of Columbia University, one of the trial’s principal investigators, says: “We’ve learned from every clinical efficacy trial we’ve done. We’ve had good and bad news, but each one takes us a little closer in terms of what to pursue and not to pursue.” The next HIV vaccine trials will be held in southern Africa in 2014, according to Dr. Stephen Brown of the AIDS Research Alliance.