January 27, 2003
The experimental vaccine, which had only been tested on rhesus monkeys, was developed by Emory virologist Harriet L. Robinson, along with scientists at the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine applies a new two-step strategy, but neither component incorporates the actual virus into subjects. Emory researchers said it induces the immune system to respond to specific features of HIV so the system can respond to the actual virus if it should appear.
"Every new AIDS vaccine candidate that enters human studies brings us closer to understanding HIV and the human immune system, and to ending the worldwide AIDS epidemic," said Rafi Ahmed, director of Emory's Vaccine Center.
Funding for the human trials was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of NIH. Robinson, who heads the division of microbiology and immunology at Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center, said it would be at least five years before the vaccine would receive approval. Robinson has been working on the vaccine for 11 years.