Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
St. Louis University To Begin Trial of Preventive Hepatitis C Vaccine
St. Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development is launching the first clinical trial of a hepatitis C vaccine in the United States, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The trial, which will be conducted in conjunction with Emeryville, Calif.-based biotechnology company Chiron, is the first human trial to test a preventive hepatitis C vaccine; Belgian researchers are currently conducting a trial of a therapeutic hepatitis C vaccine. Researchers hope to administer the vaccine to 45 healthy participants and then test their blood for an immune system reaction to the vaccine, the Post-Dispatch reports. The vaccine contains no live virus and therefore cannot infect participants with hepatitis C. The vaccine is made from parts of the virus' shell, the outside parts of the virus that are recognized by the immune system. Currently, there are six main types of hepatitis C with dozens of variants of each type. The vaccine is aimed at the most common type of the virus, but researchers do not know how the vaccine will perform against other variants, the Post-Dispatch reports. Dr. Robert Belshe, director of the SLU vaccine center, said, "This is not likely to be the final vaccine for all hepatitis C viruses, though it is an important step" (Kintisch, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/17).
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