Back to the drawing board for Merck researchers in New Jersey:
A promising experimental vaccine to prevent the AIDS virus has failed in a crucial experiment, with volunteers becoming infected with HIV anyway, leading the drug developer to halt the study.
Merck & Co. said Friday that it is ending enrollment and vaccination of volunteers in the large international study, which is partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Officials at the New Jersey-based company told The Associated Press that 24 of 741 volunteers who got the vaccine in one segment of the experiment later became infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
God, that’s really terrible! Wait, what?
The volunteers in the experiment were all free of HIV at the start. But they were at high risk for getting the virus: Most were homosexual men or female sex workers. They were all repeatedly counseled about how to reduce their risk of HIV infections, including use of condoms.