Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester are set to begin human testing of an HIV vaccine that attempts to target five strains of HIV simultaneously--an approach that researchers say has worked on animals. The trial is one of at least 18 new approaches to HIV vaccines underwritten by the National Institutes of Health, and it is one of four human trials with $70 million in NIH funding.
The University of Massachusetts researchers will expose patients to DNA strains from HIV, including two types from the United States, two from Africa, and one from Thailand. The five-strain vaccine will not cause HIV in patients. Scientists hope the vaccine will trick the immune system into responding as if the virus were present. Thirty-six participants will be immunized three times in six months with the DNA vaccine, and they will receive two inoculations of vaccine-boosting proteins.