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 A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure
24.11.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

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: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>