The National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases (NIAID), under the National Institutes of Health, looked back at the history of efforts to develop a preventive HIV vaccine.
The two approaches to seek out a cure provide insights into the disease. The empirical approach championed human testing, while the theoretical approach pushed for more research into immune responses to natural infections to design the vaccine.
theoretical and empirical approaches will coalesce, converging upon the
effective vaccine so critically needed to end HIV transmission
worldwide,"The study's authors, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Hilary Marston, said.
HIV presents a number of issues in developing preventive measures, although one empirical trial has seen some success. The RV144 trial in Thailand showed a 31 percent reduction in infection among vaccine recipients; others look to build on the success of this trial.
Scientists following the theoretical approach hope to design a vaccine based off a minority of the HIV-infected population's immune-system abilities to target HIV strains. If the scientists succeed, a vaccine would allow for the uninfected to develop broadly neutralizing antibodies.