National News

Experimental AIDS Vaccine Being Tested on Humans

January 27, 2003

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An AIDS vaccine developed at Emory University in Atlanta is being tested on humans, university officials said Friday. Thirty volunteers enrolled last week in the initial series of clinical trials at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, as well as at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Washington-Seattle, said Emory spokesperson Holly Korschun.

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.

The first clinical trial, planned to run one year, will focus on assessing the safety of a DNA primer vaccine among HIV-negative volunteers. A second human trial will concentrate on the safety of a booster vaccine. "We will have a third phase I trial to test the combined regimen of the DNA and booster portions of the vaccine strategy," Robinson said.

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Adapted from:
Associated Press

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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