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Research saves the Day!

Posted by gimpygimpy on 05/12/2009

Research saves the day!

As you know I am very much opposed to CAM treatments of AIDS in Africa.  It’s about experimenting on helpless victims with unknown medicines (Well, unknown to me), and that is against my ethical standards. Anyway, you can understand how disappointed I was with the failure of the AIDS vaccine trial two years ago. You can read about it here, but make sure you read the good news at the end of this article, cause that’s the bottom line

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 24 — South African AIDS researchers have begun warning hundreds of volunteers that a highly touted experimental vaccine they received in recent months might make them more, not less, likely to contract HIV in the midst of one of the world’s most rampant epidemics.

The move stems from the discovery last month that an AIDS vaccine developed by Merck & Co. might have led to more infections than it averted among study subjects in the United States and other countries. Among those who received at least two doses of the vaccine, 19 contracted HIV compared with 11 of those given placebos.

Researchers shut down the trial on the grounds that the vaccine was proving ineffective, but the surge in infection among vaccinated volunteers prompted intense scientific debate and anxiety among researchers. The failure of the Merck vaccine is the latest in a series of disappointing results for research projects aimed at curbing AIDS.

“This is my worst nightmare,” said Glenda Gray, the lead South Africa investigator for the vaccine study. “I haven’t slept for days. I have a headache. I’m ready to resign from trials for the rest of my life.”

The Merck vaccine failure is a “deep disappointment and a scientific setback for the AIDS vaccine field,” the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition said in a statement. However, the nonprofit group added that “while this is a disappointment, it is in no way the end of the search for an AIDS vaccine.”

Note of course the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition is a ‘non profit group’ so that does excuse them to an extent. I mean fair is fair and all that! They clearly state that they don’t take money from pharmaceuticals, although their list of donors mentions  the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, who’s list of stakeholders includes GlaxoSmithKline , the welcome foundation and, surprise, Merck & Co. Another donor is the International Partnership for Microbicides, who’s partners include ‘major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies’, also the  International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) who’s list of corporate donors you can see here.  Anyway, enough of that, what comes round goes around I say.

Anyway, as I said I was a bit upset, so I didn’t mention this sad affair in my blog. I was sure research would come up with a suitable explanation (I am a research scientist you know!) Well, finally science has saved the day. A recent post mortem by scientists (so obviously objective) that did the study found that:

Nov. 16, 2009

WASHINGTON – The failure of an experimental AIDS vaccine trial two years ago may have been caused by the common cold virus.

The vaccine was intended to block the spread of HIV, which causes AIDS. But the test was cancelled after volunteers who got the shots were more likely to become infected than those who got a dummy shot.

The problem, which could hamper efforts to stifle the spread of HIV in Third World countries, may have been using the common adenovirus to carry HIV material around the body to help the immune system recognize the invader. The conclusion comes from researchers reporting in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

So, there you have it! There IS a scientific explanation for the fact that many more people got infected with HIV due to the vaccine. You see, if you stick to pure scientific research, there is always a logical explanation. And if there is a logical explanation, I guess these deaths are not so bad, are they? Not like those CAM bods who just claim their medicine helps people but can’t explain why (Well they haven’t convinced me!)

There are some additional problems, but I know we can find an answer to those, cause we always do!

Adenovirus is also used in vaccines for tuberculosis and malaria that are under development, said Patterson, of Imperial College, London. This raises a particularly difficult problem in many areas of the world with a high rate of HIV, and high rates of TB and malaria that will be targeted by vaccines for those diseases, he said.

“If our hypothesis is correct, then the use of an adenovirus vaccine against any disease in an area of high HIV prevalence may increase the risk of HIV infection,” he said.

Anyway, I, for one, am going to sleep better tonight.

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