An AIDS vaccine developed at Emory University in Atlanta is now being tested on humans, university officials said Friday. Thirty volunteers enrolled last week in the initial series of clinical trials at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and the University of Washington-Seattle, said Emory spokesperson Holly Korschun.
The experimental vaccine, which had been tested previously only in rhesus monkeys, was developed by Emory virologist Harriet L. Robinson along with scientists at the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine uses genes from the AIDS virus to prompt both a cellular and antibody response to HIV in the body. Funding for the human trials was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the NIH.
The first clinical trial, which will study only if the vaccine is safe for human use, is expected to last one year. Two additional Phase I tests also are planned. Robinson, who heads the division of microbiology and immunology at Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center, said it would be at least five years before the vaccine would be ready for submission to the Food and Drug Administration for marketing approval. Robinson has been working on the vaccine for 11 years.