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HIV vaccine 'modestly effective' in late-stage clinical trial


LYON, France A late-stage clinical trial may have turned up something that researchers have awaited for nearly 30 years: an HIV vaccine that works.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis, announced Thursday that results of a 16,000-patient phase 3 trial conducted in Thailand over the last six years, with sponsorship from the U.S. Army Surgeon General and execution by the Thai Ministry of Public Health, indicate that a two-vaccine regimen for HIV is safe and “modestly” effective in preventing infection by the virus that causes AIDS.

According to final results, to be presented in Paris next month, the prime-boost combination of Sanofi Pasteur’s ALVAC HIV and VaxGen’s AIDSVAX B/E lowered the rate of HIV infection by 31.2% compared with placebo.

“Albeit modest, the reduction of risk of HIV infection is statistically significant,” Sanofi Pasteur SVP research and development Michel DeWilde said in a statement. “This is the first concrete evidence, since the discovery of the virus in 1983, that a vaccine against HIV is eventually feasible.”

DeWilde said further work would be needed to develop and test a vaccine suitable for licensure and worldwide use.

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