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 Correct antibiotic dosing could preserve lung microbial diversity in cystic fibrosis
22.02.2019 | Children's National Health System

nachricht Researchers find trigger that turns strep infections into flesh-eating disease
19.02.2019 | Houston Methodist

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: (Re)solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.

In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

JILA researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs

22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists show changes in the erythrocyte nanostructure under stress

22.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>