VaxGen's AIDSVAX vaccine, based on a recombinant gp120 coat protein, failed to prevent HIV infection or even slow the development of disease in its second phase III clinical trial, conducted in Thailand and reported this month.

The results were even worse than those from the first trial in the United States and elsewhere, reported in February. Nevertheless, many important lessons for future HIV vaccines can be learned from the two studies, said José Esparza, coordinator of the World Health Organization/United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS HIV Vaccine Initiative.

“These trials moved the field ahead,” Esparza told The Scientist this week. “It's a bit naive at this time to believe that we will do a trial and get a vaccine at the end. After 15 years of trials, we have had to modify our expectations, and rather than taking shots in the dark, hoping that this or that vaccine will work,...

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