Institute for Human Virology to Test Aventis AIDS Vaccine in Humans
The Institute for Human Virology in Baltimore this month will begin a Phase I clinical trial of Aventis SA's therapeutic AIDS vaccine designed to stimulate an antibody response by using the deactivated HIV protein Tat, the Wall Street Journal Europe reports. The vaccine, which is being tested for the first time in the United States for safety in 32 HIV-positive people, seeks to create an antibody reaction to the protein, which is "normally key" to HIV replication, thereby "helping the body mount a more vigorous" response to the virus. High levels of antibodies to Tat have been found in people who appear "naturally resistant" to HIV. The trial will be carried out over five months, and all participants will remain on antiretroviral therapy for the duration. The institute, which is headed by HIV co-discoverer Robert Gallo, will also conduct a small-scale human test of Schering-Plough's new AIDS drug SCH-C. The drug, which has already undergone preliminary human testing, blocks HIV by binding to CCR5, a protein on the surface of immune cells necessary for bonding, leaving the virus without a receptor. The trial will last 28 days and will involve 16 patients, who will take the drug twice daily (Hamilton, Wall Street Journal Europe, 3/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.