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California university begins HIV vaccine trial

California university begins HIV vaccine trial

A clinical trial testing the safety and tolerability of an experimental HIV vaccine developed by Merck Research Laboratories will get under way in May at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and Medical Center. The UC Davis study is part of a multisite clinical trial and will enroll 10 to 20 volunteers, with a total of 273 people enrolled nationwide. The Phase I trial will study the safety and tolerability of a DNA-based vaccine that Merck hopes will help prevent HIV infections. The vaccine uses three synthetic versions of key HIV genes--Gag, Pol, and Nef--to stimulate an immune system defense against the virus. "This vaccine is an expanded version of the previous candidate vaccines designed to elicit a broader, and hopefully, more effective response to HIV," said David Asmuth, an assistant professor at UC Davis. "The previous versions were generally well tolerated in volunteers tested, and their effect on the immune system is still being tested. Merck Research Laboratories has made a commitment to developing an effective vaccine against HIV and we are grateful to be invited to participate in this important cause."

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