National News

First Human Trial of "Global" HIV Vaccine Launched

November 18, 2002

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

The first trial of the so-called "global vaccine" -- a single vaccine designed to prevent infection with the three most common forms of HIV -- was launched Thursday by the National Institutes of Health under the supervision of the Vaccine Research Center.

The trial vaccine incorporates parts of four different HIV genes. These are drawn from subtype B, which is the most prevalent form of HIV in North America and Western Europe, as well as subtypes A and C, which are the most common types in Africa and Asia. The three types, or clades, account for about 90 percent of HIV infections worldwide.

"The idea behind this global vaccine candidate is to broaden the coverage of the vaccine," said VRC Director Dr. Gary Nabel. Early lab tests with animals have shown that immune response to any single HIV type was not diminished by combining protection against all three major types.

The history of vaccine development supports the concept of a combination vaccine, Nabel said. "If you look at the polio vaccine, it actually contains three different strains of the disease to cover the three different most prominent strains, so there's an important precedent for that concept." Nabel noted that the virus "is constantly mutating, and seems to be adapting to different populations. So the idea behind having this global vaccine is that we are trying to ... have a better chance of resisting the newer viruses that develop."

In the trial's first phase, 50 healthy, HIV-negative volunteers ages 18 to 40 will receive multiple inoculations with either the test vaccine or a saline solution placebo over the course of one year. Nabel and colleagues expressed confidence that the vaccine is completely safe, whether or not it proves effective over time. "Everyone who comes into this trial gets counseling about avoiding risk, because there's no proof yet that this vaccine will protect them."

Even if all goes well throughout the clinical trial, the vaccine will not become available to the public for at least five years from now, Nabel said.

Back to other CDC news for November 18, 2002

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Adapted from:
Reuters Health
11.14.02; Alan Mozes

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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