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Mariano Esteban, Professor, Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia, CSIC

I would would like respond to Michael Palm posted comment entitled "Lost in Translation: Crazy Claims About MVA-B HIV Vaccine.

1. In view of the wrong interpretation that had appeared on the news about CSIC press release on the vaccine MVA-B, a statement has been forwarded by CSIC to international press to clarify the findings of the phase I clinical trial in Spain with MVA-B, given below:


While news have appeared wrongly implying 90% protective efficacy of the Spanish HIV vaccine, with moral implications to those suffering the virus infection, the phase I clinical trial performed in Spain and results published in two scientific journals, only proved that the vaccine induced prolong immune responses to HIV antigens in high per cent of the healthy volunteers not exposed to HIV. At present, it is not known if the vaccine can protect against HIV.

2. I regret that statements I made in the press release, with the best intention to help explain the results, were unfortunate

3. Your comment that "there is no assesment of whether the CD8 T cell responses induced by MVA-B can actually kill HIV-infected cells, a parameter that has emerged as critically important for T cell vaccines" was shown before in our previous publication (Climent N et al. 2011. PLoS ONE 6, 5). In the Abstract of the article it is described "MVA-B infected monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC) co-cultured with autologous T lymphocytes induced a highly functional HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses including proliferation, secretion of IFN-gamma, IL-2, TNF-alpha, MIP-1B, MIP-1a, RANTES and IL-6, and strong cytotoxic activity against autologous HIV-infected CD4+ T lymphocytes"

4. As we have discussed in our JVI publication, MVA-B appears to be an immunogen that is as good or even better than other MVA-based HIV vaccines and in the Vaccine publication "MVA-B deserves to be considered as a potential HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate to be used alone or in prime-boost combination with other immunogens in future trials". Clearly, there are other HIV vaccine candidates that are more potent, particularly when combined with other immunogens.

5. Our contribution in the pursuit of an HIV vaccine is one among many efforts worlwide to develop an effective vaccine, thus far only achieved, in part, by the RV-144 trial in Thailand.

I appreciate your critical comments and would like to see if you can post these clarifications.

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