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Louis Picker is nervous. Last month, the first volunteer was injected with an HIV vaccine he spent over 20 years designing. It’s prototype No. 2. The last shot they tested, in 2021, didn’t do much of anything, and the 66-year-old worries that if this fails, he might not get another chance to redesign it. 

Truthfully, though, Picker isn’t sure his HIV vaccine stands much of a chance. He needs this study to prove the platform he built can genuinely stoke a specific type of immune response, one he believes can have important applications in cancer and tuberculosis. But as for the shot itself?


“To be honest,” said Picker, a professor at Oregon Health Sciences and co-founder of Vir Biotechnology, the company developing the shot, “I’m not completely sure that an HIV vaccine will ever be developed.”

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