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Back To Vidyya Merck Starts Human Trials Of AIDS Vaccine

From The Wall Street Journal 22 February 2001

Although this certainly will not be the first AIDS vaccine to enter human trials, Merck's testing of a new vaccine appears promising.

Dr. David Baltimore, the chair of the National Institute of Health's AIDS Vaccine Advisory Committee, suggested that members of the panel--which heard details of the vaccine's progress during a closed-door session last month--"were excited" about the prospects.

Merck will combine the vaccine with one it had tested earlier in a new trial for healthy, uninfected patients to check the products' safety, a step in a long process that has impressed researchers because of the thoroughness with which Merck has performed its research to date.

Details of animal trials have yet to be revealed, and while panelists who approved the human trials may not reveal any specific information about Merck's testing, they claim the data are impressive and the greater scientific community at large will learn of the vaccine at a forum in Colorado in April.

While Merck chief of vaccine research Emilio Emini notes pointedly that the vaccine "might fail," the drug worked well in monkey trials, according to those close to the investigation, and will enter tests in HIV-positive patients in four months, if the present step is successful.


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