May 12, 2003
The first candidate vaccine to be tested will be modified vaccinia Ankara, a live attenuated vaccine that will target HIV-1 subtype C. "This subtype is predominant in India, accounting for nearly 91 percent of cases," said Dr. Jean-Louis Excler, medical director of the initiative. Subtypes A, B, and E and a recombinant subtype AC are found in small numbers, mainly in northeastern India, added Excler. "There is, however, no really good epidemiological study of distribution of the various HIV subtypes in India," cautioned Dr. Excler.
Developed by Boston-based Therion Biologics, the vaccine will be tested on 39 HIV-negative people at low risk of infection from the Pune area in western India. "We will ensure that informed consent is followed strictly and the trials are cleared by the institutional ethics committee," said Anjali Nayyar, IAVI's country director for India. "The vaccine is very safe," added Nayyar, "and there is no possibility of volunteers getting infected through the vaccine."
Nayyar went on to say that talks are currently underway with some Indian companies for the manufacture of the vaccine in India when the phase I trials end. "We have at least two other candidate vaccines also in mind for testing in India, but a decision on that will be taken after later consolation with scientists," said Nayyar.
British Medical Journal
05.03.03; Vol. 326: P. 952; Sanjay Kumar