Minggu, 23 Maret 2008

AIDS Vaccine Tests Halted

Two trials of promising AIDS vaccines have been halted in recent months because the vaccines didn't work. Worse yet, they may have nearly doubled the subjects’ chances of contracting AIDS. It’s an enormous setback for the AIDS vaccine, and no one saw it coming.

The National Institutes of Health, which funded the two studies, will be meeting this week to reexamine its entire AIDS vaccine program, currently funded at nearly $500 million per year. But the findings from the two halted vaccine trials were so disastrous that scientists now seriously doubt that an AIDS vaccine could be ready in the next few decades. It may depend on whether any new hypotheses come out of the new findings, and whether (and how much) NIH decides to fund AIDS vaccine research in the future. No one is giving up just yet, but an AIDS vaccine has certainly proved to be a more difficult challenge than was expected. Way back in 1984, federal officials predicted that an AIDS vaccine would be ready in three years.

See an article available online in The Washington Post March 21 entitled “Vaccine Failure Is Setback in AIDS Fight”. The article could be used as a springboard for a class discussion about the process of scientific inquiry; how new hypotheses are oftentimes developed out of the failure of old ones. You can almost see that happening in the speculation in the article about the causes of the vaccine’s failure.

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