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AIDS vaccine trial launched at RU Hospital
An investigational DNA-based HIV vaccine called ADVAX, developed by Rockefeller University scientists at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, was injected into its first patient last week at The Rockefeller University Hospital, launching a 19-month trial designed to evaluate its safety.
The vaccine is designed to prevent people who are uninfected with the HIV virus from contracting AIDS. The trial, which will enroll 45 healthy volunteers, aims to gather preliminary data on whether ADVAX stimulates immune responses to the HIV virus.
The vaccine is tailored for the C strain of HIV that accounts for the most HIV infections worldwide and is prevalent in China and other developing countries, where millions of people are being infected with HIV every year. Unlike traditional vaccines that contain a weakened or inert form of a disease-causing agent, ADVAX is a DNA vaccine, which contains only synthetic DNA based on portions of genetic material found in HIV. The ADVAX vaccine does not contain HIV and cannot cause HIV infection.
Volunteers in the study, who will be paid $1,200 over 19 months for their participation, will be assigned to receive either the vaccine or a placebo. They will then be monitored on an outpatient basis at either The Rockefeller University Hospital or the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“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,” says David Ho, Rockefeller’s Irene Diamond Professor and scientific director of ADARC.
Rockefeller University and ADARC conducted the initial studies on HIV combination therapy in 1995. “We’re hopeful that in 2003 this vaccine trial will also add significantly to our goal of turning back this terrible epidemic,” says Rockefeller President Paul Nurse.
ADARC and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a global nonprofit scientific organization that is co-sponsoring the research, have agreed that if ADVAX proves effective, it will be made available in developing countries at reasonable prices.

December 12, 2003



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