Human trials of a novel DNA vaccine for treating AIDS in people already infected with HIV are planned to start in 2003, British company PowderJect has announced. Chairman and chief executive Paul Drayson said the vaccine, being jointly developed with GlaxoSmithKline, showed "proof of concept" in early preclinical studies and animal tests.
Unlike traditional vaccines, which use a weakened form of a virus to stimulate an immune response, DNA vaccines use a small portion of genetic material from the virus to elicit an immune system reaction that attacks HIV in the body. The vaccine in development is injected at high speed into the skin as a dry powder, eliminating the need for hypodermic needles.
The company hopes to have the vaccine on the market by the end of the decade. PowderJect also is developing DNA vaccines to treat herpes and some forms of cancer.