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Shao Yiming, a virologist based at China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is at the forefront of attempts to develop a vaccine for HIV/AIDS.

In this article, Jon Cohen profiles the varied efforts of Shao and his colleagues. These include developing a hybrid between HIV and its monkey counterpart that will allow testing of candidate vaccines on Chinese macaques. Shao is developing AIDS vaccines for human tests too. Uniquely, these are customised for China, being based on local strains of HIV and the vaccinia virus used in China's smallpox eradication programme.

He is also looking at the only effective vaccine yet developed against a lentivirus — the family of HIV — that affects horses. By comparing the vaccine to the wild virus, Shao and co-workers hope to learn how immune responses lead to protection and apply their findings to an HIV vaccine. Failing that, they will proceed with a live, weakened HIV vaccine, a controversial approach that has been dropped in the West because of safety concerns.

Link to full feature in Science

Reference: Science 304, 1437 (2004)

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