Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative Begin Human Clinical Trial for HIV Vaccine ADVAX
The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative announced on Monday that the groups have begun a human clinical trial to test the safety of the experimental DNA-based HIV vaccine ADVAX, according to an ADARC release. The trial is seeking to enroll a total of 45 healthy, HIV-negative men and women in New York City and Rochester, N.Y., over the next few months. Trial participants will be randomly assigned either the experimental vaccine or a placebo and will visit outpatient clinics at the Rockefeller University Hospital in New York City or the University of Rochester Medical Center 12 times over 19 months. The ADVAX vaccine is tailored to the C strain of HIV that accounts for most HIV infections worldwide and is designed to stimulate an immune response to prevent uninfected individuals from contracting HIV. ADVAX uses synthetic DNA based on genetic material found in HIV, according to the release. The vaccine contains only portions of genetic material similar to HIV rather than a weakened version of the virus and cannot cause HIV infection. "There is an urgent need to slow the spread of HIV in the world, particularly in regions such as Asia that are experiencing rapidly increasing HIV infections," Dr. David Ho, director of ADARC, said, adding, "This trial will help science to gain important information to move us towards the development of an effective vaccine, which could ultimately benefit countless people." Dr. Seth Berkley, president and CEO of IAVI, said, "A preventive vaccine is the world's best hope to stop the spread of the epidemic," adding, "ADVAX is a promising approach that broadens the pipeline of AIDS vaccines in human trials" (ADARC release, 12/8).
TIME Examines Ho's Work in China
The Dec. 15 issue of TIME magazine examines Ho's efforts to expand HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs in China. TIME traveled with Ho around China for two weeks earlier this year while the researcher set up labs, visted clinics, educated health care workers and met with Chinese officials. "Everywhere Ho went, his mission was the same: to persuade Chinese officials to step up their modest anti-AIDS efforts and commit the resources necessary to launch a comprehensive nationwide program," TIME reports (Park Kunming, TIME, 12/15). Chinese estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 have AIDS; however, some experts believe that the figures are grossly inaccurate (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/14). TIME named Ho 1996 Person of the Year for his work on developing state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS treatments (TIME, 12/15). The complete article is available online.