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Atlanta at Heart of AIDS Research

May 7, 2001

AIDS vaccine research in Atlanta has taken a promising turn. This spring, vaccine researchers unveiled exciting results on treating an HIV-like condition in monkeys. This vaccine effort, as well as other research led by the Emory Vaccine Center's Dr. Harriet Robinson, are among new approaches that have energized AIDS researchers.

One vaccine approach being used by Merck & Co. uses DNA and a compound manufactured by CytRx Corp. The Norcross, Ga.-based company calls its compound a "turbo-charger" for the vaccine. Merck's vaccine approach is to stimulate cellular immunity, which eliminates the cells that the virus has infected. The vaccine provokes the release of "killer" T-cells into the bloodstream to destroy HIV-infected cells. After injecting its vaccines into rhesus monkeys, Merck infected them with a highly virulent form of SHIV, a combination of HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus. (HIV itself does not reproduce or cause illness in monkeys.) Results showed the vaccine strengthened the animals' immune systems to a level roughly equivalent to that achieved by current antiretroviral drugs.

The Emory team, like Merck's, seeks to provoke cellular immunity with its AIDS vaccine. The team used two shots of a DNA vaccine, generating multiple proteins like those contained in HIV, to prime the immune response to resist the virus. Studies presented by Merck, Robinson and a Harvard team are among the most promising AIDS vaccine work, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). A number of other AIDS vaccines are in human trials, "but they didn't show the results that Merck's and Harriet Robinson's have shown," said Fauci.


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Adapted from:
Atlanta Journal Constitution; 05.07.01; Andy Miller



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

 

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