New findings have disproved a leading explanation for why an experimental HIV vaccine made subjects more susceptible to the virus, reopening the door for further HIV vaccine efforts based on similar principles.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Image: NIAID
The Merck-funded STEP study, which used an adenoviral vector to deliver an HIV vaccine candidate, was halted in 2007 after the data suggested the vaccine increased the risk of HIV infection. Researchers thought the effect might be due to an immune reaction to the viral vector, but two studies published online in Nature Medicine today show this is not the case. "Both of these papers show that's not a possible explanation," said molecular immunologist linkurl:David Weiner; of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the research. "Overall this is a positive and optimistic message for the field," said immunologist linkurl:Dan Barouch,; chief of Harvard University's Division of Vaccine Research and the...

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