Aids Vaccine Tests Show Promise While Skeptics Aren't as Optimisitic, Researchers Seek More Volunteers
Schieszer, John, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
An effective vaccine against AIDS could be widely available within seven years, some medical researchers say.
Twenty-three AIDS vaccines are being tested on human volunteers in St. Louis and other cities. Within two years, predicts one expert, at least one of the vaccines will show enough promise that it will be tested on thousands of volunteers in large trials.
Knowledge about the disease is "vastly greater" than it was a few years ago, said Dr. Jack Killen, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Division of AIDS.
"It permits you to envision both vaccine prevention and drug treatment strategy that we couldn't visualize or conceive of a few years ago," he said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his office in Washington.
Killen's agency has picked eight cities where more than 4,000 volunteers will receive a vaccine. St. Louis isn't one of them. So far none of the potential vaccines has been effective enough to enter such a study.
Killen said promising findings about a form of HIV that infects monkeys - simian immunodeficiency virus - also were spurring hope for an effective AIDS vaccine.
In St. Louis, researchers are optimistic about new tests that will begin in a few weeks.
Three of the vaccines under study here use the canarypox virus to stimulate production of antibodies. This type of virus infects birds and is genetically altered so that it doesn't replicate completely in humans. The canarypox virus is then able to deliver proteins from the AIDS virus, stimulating antibodies without causing the disease.
"It appears to prime the immune response," said Dr. Geoffrey Gorse, an infectious disease specialist at St. Louis University. "It has had the best responses yet. …