BETHESDA, Md--It's time to recycle some old ideas in AIDS vaccines,
Nobel laureate David Baltimore, PhD, told the Advisory Committee to the
Director of the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Baltimore, currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and president-elect of the California Institute of Technology, chairs an
advisory committee named by NIH director Harold Varmus, MD, to devise a
comprehensive national research program to develop an effective AIDS vaccine.
Looking at the candidate AIDS vaccines tested so far, Dr. Baltimore expressed
his concern that none of them may be able to effectively prevent the disease.
The growing understanding of how the human immunodeficiency virus changes
and functions has led him to conclude that scientists need to reconsider
a variety of vaccine approaches discarded earlier, he said. These include
killed viruses, virus-like particles, protein-based vaccines, naked DNA,
and live, attenuated vaccines.
Because a live vaccine would involve actually infecting people, albeit
with a crippled virus, "that concept is appropriately worrisome,"
Dr. Baltimore acknowledged. Nonetheless, that approach could be the most
"What the committee is doing is trying to suggest new scientific
initiatives," he said. "What we'd most like to do is get new
vaccine concepts under testing." However, he emphasized that an AIDS
vaccine will take years to perfect: "It is intrinsic to the development
that it takes a long time."
Dr. Baltimore said the AIDS vaccine committee has held a series of regional
workshops intended to generate new ideas and bring new minds into the effort.
"We would like to encourage people who have not worked on HIV to come
into the field," he said.