Germany launches Aids vaccine trial

Scientists in Germany on Monday launched the country’s first test of an HIV vaccine, a yearlong programme that will involve up to 50 volunteers and is backed by the New York-based International Aids Vaccine Initiative (Iavi).

The trial will be conducted at university clinics in Bonn and Hamburg, and also at Belgian hospitals in Brussels and Antwerp, the international initiative said.

Known as tgAAC09, the vaccine targets HIV subtype C, prevalent in South Africa, India and China and responsible for a large part of the world’s HIV infections. The vaccine was developed by Seattle-based Targeted Genetics Corporation and the Columbus Children’s Research Institute.

The first-phase testing in Germany and Belgium is aimed at determining the safety of the vaccine and whether it produces immune responses. If it is successful, the second and third phases of testing would be carried out in developing countries, project leader Jan van Lunzen told reporters.

The Iavi estimates that about 30 HIV vaccine tests already are under way worldwide.
The German trial should start in the next two weeks, Iavi spokesperson Michael Nord said.

Experts believe a vaccine is the only way to stop the worldwide Aids epidemic, which has killed 20-million people and infected 40-million more. The search has been frustrating, because the virus has evolved elaborate and effective strategies to elude the body’s usual defenses against microbes.—Sapa-AP

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