Understanding how Thai vaccine worked is priority

The priority for AIDS virologists in coming months, a leading researcher said, is to find out exactly how the Thailand vaccine, which gave 30 percent protection against HIV, worked.

This was the urging of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the close of the Paris AIDS Vaccine Conference on Oct. 22.

The modest immune protection of the recent Thai vaccine — the first vaccine ever to show any effect against AIDS — must be "maximized," Fauci said.

Results released a month ago on the Thai trial involving 16,400 people, showed 30 percent of those who got a course of six vaccine injections were protected from HIV.

At the closing ceremony, Nobel prize-winner Dr. Francoise Barré-Sinoussi also stressed that the Thai trial needed to be investigated further to understand "how and why the vaccine reduced the risk of infection."

"We need new technologies, innovation and high-risk concepts in vaccine research," said Barré-Sinoussi, co-winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering HIV with Luc Montagnier.