Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First human tests under way of HIV vaccine pioneered at UNC

06.08.2003


The world´s first human test of a vaccine against the prevalent subtype of HIV in sub-Saharan African and Asia, where millions have the virus that causes AIDS, is now under way. The clinical trial uses novel technology pioneered by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the U. S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.



The phase I trial began July 17 at Johns Hopkins University. An adult male, at low risk for HIV infection, was the first of 48 volunteers in the United States to be vaccinated.

Other U.S. sites include Columbia University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Rochester. Sites in South Africa are at the University of Witwatersrand, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto and the Medical Research Council in Durban. The two-year trial will involve 48 non-HIV-infected participants in each country at four different dose levels, using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. The primary endpoint is safety, that the vaccine does not produce significant side effects. Researchers also will look at the vaccine´s ability to induce an immune response.


The vaccine is built around a disabled, safe version of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, or VEE. In the wild, this microbe infects horses and is sometimes carried to humans via mosquitoes.

Dr. Robert E. Johnston, professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the newly established Carolina Vaccine Institute, together with department colleague and research professor Dr. Nancy Davis studied VEE for more than 12 years, developing candidate vaccines against the virus. Their work led them to believe the virus could be modified for use as a safe vaccine vector, or delivery system for the vaccine.

Subsequent primate tests showed the technology held promise. Now, with approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the South African Medicines Control Council, a prototype HIV vaccine based on VEE technology has moved on to a human trial.

Joining Johnston and Davis in designing this "first-generation" HIV vaccine were Dr. Ronald Swanstrom, professor of biochemistry and biophysics and director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research; Dr. Jeffrey Frelinger, professor and chair of microbiology and immunology at UNC; and Drs. David Montefiore of Duke University and Phil Johnson of the Children´s Hospital Research Foundation in Columbus, Ohio. Collaborating scientists in South Africa, Drs. Carolyn Williamson, Lynn Morris and Salim Karim, also were key members of this team effort.

AlphaVax, a Durham-based biotechnology spinoff of UNC, holds the commercial license for the VEE technology from the university and contributed to the design and manufactured the trial vaccine.

"It´s very rare that a basic scientist gets to see something go from a concept to an actual biological product that can be tried in human beings," Johnston said.

"The VEE vector we helped develop is a means of expressing genes - in this case we´re expressing a gene in vivo - inside the person vaccinated. And those gene products then immunize the person against the disease."

The vaccine contains a copy of only a small section of genetic material from HIV and does not include genetic elements needed to reconstitute live HIV, thus precluding the possibility of causing HIV infection. The vaccine material is also designed so that its VEE components cannot generate VEE virus or cause VEE infection.

The vaccine targets cells in lymph nodes, the critical tissue of the immune system. The vector will produce the immunizing protein by expressing "gag," a major protein in the HIV particle. The protein then induces the body to respond immunologically to it.

More advanced versions of the vaccine will include expression of the HIV envelope and polymerase genes.

"We hope to refine this vaccine to the point that if an individual is subsequently exposed to HIV, they will be protected from disease," Johnston said.

"This is a good first start from the standpoint of determining if the vector will work well. We can measure both cell mediated and humoral (antibody) immunity to gag. We´ll be able to see if none or one or both arms of the immune response are activated during the vaccination."

The research collaboration of Johnson, Davis, Swanstrom, Montefiore and Johnson is working on subsequent generations of the vaccine. "We want to see if we can do better both from the delivery side and the gene side," Johnston said.

"I think I can speak for everybody on this team that we are extremely gratified to have this clinical trial opportunity. We´re very hopeful. This is a major milestone."

Contact:

Dr. Robert E. Johnston, rjohnst@med.unc.edu
Les Lang, llang@med.unc.edu

Leslie Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.med.unc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nachricht Flexible sensors can detect movement in GI tract
11.10.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>