Azara Blog: Merck stops trials of HIV vaccine

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Date published: 2007/09/23

The BBC says:

International drug company Merck has halted trials on an HIV vaccine that was regarded as one of the most promising in the fight against Aids.

Merck stopped testing the vaccine after it was judged to be ineffective.

In trials, the vaccine failed to prevent HIV infections among volunteers who were at risk of catching the virus, including gay men and sex workers.

Merck had previously expressed high hopes for the drug, which it spent 10 years developing.

Merck's international trial, called Step, began in 2004 and involved 3,000 HIV-negative volunteers from diverse backgrounds, between the ages of 18 and 45.

Merck said that 24 of 741 volunteers who got the vaccine became infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

Out of a group of 762 volunteers who were given a dummy version of the jab, 21 became infected with HIV.

An independent monitoring panel recommended discontinuing the vaccination of volunteers, saying the trial was headed for failure.
The vaccine contained a common cold virus loaded with copies of three HIV genes.

A bad day for everyone. And it just goes to show that so-called rational drug design is not yet with us.

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