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First HIV Vaccine for Africa Begins Trials

January 26, 2001

On January 27 IAVI (the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) announced that the first HIV vaccine designed specifically for Africa will begin human trials, after approval by the government of Kenya. From the IAVI announcement:

The preventive vaccine candidate is based upon subtype A of HIV, the most common strain in East Africa. The vaccine candidate is the product of an International AIDS Vaccine Initiative-funded partnership between the research teams of the Medical Research Council's Human Immunology Unit at Oxford University in the United Kingdom and the University of Nairobi.

It will be tested in a new, state of the art research facility at the University of Nairobi, which was officially opened by Kenya's Minister of Public Health, the Hon. Professor Sam K. Ongeri, in December. Recruitment for the trial began in December, and several of the 18 volunteers needed for the Phase I trial have already been screened.

The partners also announced a new agreement under which all existing and future patents covering the vaccine candidate will be owned jointly by the Medical Research Council, the University of Nairobi and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). The partners agreed to use their patent ownership to help ensure access to a successful AIDS vaccine in Kenya and in other developing countries.

In other vaccine news, on January 29 Bill Gates gave a $100 million "challenge grant" (to be matched by other contributions) to IAVI, to develop this or other AIDS vaccines. Internet company Yahoo! then contributed $5 million.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2001 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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