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Researchers Continue Hunt For AIDS Vaccine

“Finding a safe, effective AIDS vaccine has, thus far, proved elusive even after some $8 billion invested from 2001-2011 into vaccine research and development,” PlusNews reports in an article examining ongoing HIV vaccine research efforts. “Scientists point to HIV’s Houdini-like ability to escape immune system attack, and less-than-strategic use of funds over the past decade, as reasons for the continued hunt,” the news service writes. PlusNews examines efforts “to seek more U.S. government funding for research that crossed over into more than one area of science. “Funding for cross-disciplinary research is still limited, said Ellen Weiss from the U.S. non-profit Biophysical Society,” the news service adds.

The news service writes that “dozens of scientists [have] received funding to break down silos of scientific disciplines to create an AIDS vaccine” and notes, “The most promising vaccine candidate so far, known as RV144, was shown to be 31 percent effective in Thailand, according to findings reported in 2009” (10/19). In similar news, the Wall Street Journal reports that researchers from the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, in a study published online in the journal Nature Medicine Sunday, have “identified one way the human body can develop powerful antibodies to protect it against the AIDS virus, offering a new lead in the quest for a vaccine.” According to the news service, “The findings, the latest in a series of advances in AIDS research in the past few years, are significant because scientists were able to establish a link between a change in the virus after infection and the formulation of the antibodies that fight it” (McKay, 10/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.