AIDS vaccine hailed as 'historic milestone'

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London, Sept 24 (ANI): An experimental AIDS vaccine has been found effective in reducing HIV infection by more than 31 per cent, say researchers.

The Thailand Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with U.S. Army used common strains of HIV in Thailand and tested a two-vaccine combination in a "prime-boost" approach, where the first injection primes the immune system to attack HIV and the second strengthens the response.

The vaccines used during the trials were ALVAC, from Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis and AIDSVAX, developed by VaxGen Inc.

During the study, the researchers used the combination vaccine in HIV-negative Thai men and women ages 18 to 30 at average risk of becoming infected.

Half of them received four "priming" doses of ALVAC and two "boost" doses of AIDSVAX over six months.

They found that infections occurred in 51 of the 8,197 given vaccine and in 74 of the 8,198 who received dummy shots, which was a 31 per cent lower risk of infection.

"It is the first evidence that we could have a safe and effective preventive vaccine," the Telegraph quoted Colonel Jerome Kim, who helped lead the study for the U S Army, as saying.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the development was "not the end of the road", however, he was indeed surprised and very pleased by the outcome.

"It gives me cautious optimism about the possibility of improving this result" and developing a more effective Aids vaccine. This is something that we can do," he added.

The scientists also said it is not clear whether the vaccine would work against other strains in the United States, Africa or elsewhere. (ANI)

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