Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Aids Vaccines Tested Together

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Aids Vaccines Tested Together

Article excerpt

Here are some recent medical and health care developments in the St. Louis area:

Researchers at St. Louis University School of Medicine have combined two different AIDS vaccines to see if a combination approach can stop the virus dead in its tracks.

The goal, researchers said Monday, is to produce a vaccine for the general public that would prevent infection. The test vaccine will be given to 420 volunteers in St. Louis and 14 other cities. They will receive four immunizations over six months and will be tested for HIV infection at three-month intervals. The study will include individuals ages 18 to 60 with a lower risk for acquiring HIV infection as well as those with a higher risk of infection due to drug use or unprotected vaginal or anal sex. "We don't expect any of these volunteers will go out and get infected. This is to confirm that it is safe and it stimulates antibodies and white blood cell immunity," said Dr. Robert Belshe, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at St. Louis University. If the trial is successful, a study will begin within the next 18-24 months involving up to 10,000 volunteers across the country. Participants in the study will first receive a "primer" vaccine, made from a canarypox virus. The canarypox virus is used as a carrier for specific HIV genes. Until now, the canarypox virus has only been used in experimental vaccines for measles and for rabies. The booster vaccine is a genetically engineered copy of an HIV surface protein. Belshe said neither vaccine can cause a person to become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. "We are in a new era in the development of an AIDS vaccine," said Belshe, who believes a vaccine could be available within the next five years. If this one-two punch vaccine approach works, Belshe said it could pave the way for different AIDS vaccines to be developed in countries around the world. A vaccine that works in the United States may not work in Africa or Asia, he said. "We will have to make country-specific vaccines because there are different strains of the virus," said Belshe. …

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