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HIV vaccine trials to begin in Italy, Australia, and Botswana

HIV vaccine trials to begin in Italy, Australia, and Botswana

Clinical trials of an HIV vaccine developed by researchers at Italy's National Health Institute Laboratory of Virology are set to begin this summer in Italy, Reuters Health reports. The vaccine uses key HIV genes to prime the body's immune system into producing antibodies that recognize HIV's Tat protein and target the virus for destruction in the body. Researchers hope the vaccine will both prevent new HIV infections and prevent HIV replication in those already infected with the virus. Animal tests showed that the vaccine had a 71% success rate in preventing new HIV infections. The Australian-Thai HIV Consortium announced Wednesday that the group is recruiting volunteers for the first clinical trial of an HIV vaccine developed by researchers at Australia's University of New South Wales, the Australian Associated Press reports. The vaccine uses two separate injections--one intended to prime the body's immune system to recognize and attack HIV, and a second shot to boost those immune responses. Both injections carry small pieces of HIV DNA into the body by piggybacking the genes onto a harmless fowl pox virus. The clinical trial, designed to test only the safety of the vaccine, will be held at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney. Preliminary results are expected by the end of the year. Additional tests to determine the vaccine's efficacy will follow the safety trial. Botswana is set to begin tests on an HIV vaccine to determine if it is safe when given to healthy adults, officials said Monday. The experimental vaccine has already been successfully tested on mice and rabbits and will be tested to determine the immune responses of healthy adults when the drug is given at different doses, according to the Botswana Harvard AIDS Partnership for HIV Research and Education. The vaccine, known as EP HIV-1090, activates the killer T cells in the immune system to destroy HIV-infected cells. The experimental vaccine is manufactured by San Diego-based Epimmune. The study is scheduled to last 18 months and will involve 42 HIV-negative volunteers from Botswana and the United States. Botswana has one of the world's highest HIV prevalence rates. About 38% of the nation's 1.7 million adults are infected with HIV.

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