Botswana to Begin Trials for San Diego-Made AIDS Vaccine on Humans
May 20, 2003
Botswana is set to begin tests on an AIDS vaccine to determine if it is safe when given to healthy adults, officials said Monday. The experimental vaccine has already been successfully tested on mice and rabbits, and will be tested to determine the immune responses of healthy adults when the drug is given at different doses, according to the Botswana Harvard AIDS Partnership for HIV Research and Education.Adapted from:
The vaccine, known as EP HIV-1090, activates the CD8 or killer T cells in the immune system to destroy HIV-infected cells. The drug is manufactured by San Diego-based Epimmune.
The study is scheduled to last 18 months and will involve 42 HIV-negative volunteers from Botswana and the United States. The trials form the first phase of the process "to see if the vaccine is safe and well tolerated in humans," said Dr. Tony Villafana, the research site director. Only subjects with high levels of the protein leukocyte antigen, or HLA, will be included in the study because HLA is found to be most responsive to the treatment.
Botswana is the first African country to commit to a widespread program of providing AIDS treatment through its public health system. The diamond-rich nation has the highest HIV-infection rate in the world, with an HIV prevalence rate of 19 percent out of Botswana's 1.7 million people. Approximately 38 percent of the adult population is infected.
The Botswana Center of Human Rights says the fact that there is no local law governing the way in which clinical trials are conducted on humans is troubling, however. "We are just concerned that people should be able to make an informed decision about participating in vaccine trials, that they are fully aware of the implications," said the center's director, Alice Mogwe.
05.19.03; Sello Motseta
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.