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AIDS vaccine shows promise
Human trial results show excellent immune response

by Andrew Kandelapas

The new vaccine uses a decoy virus with portions of the HIV virus.
ATLANTA, Ga. — GeoVax Labs, an Atlanta-based biotechnology company, reported in February successful early results from two ongoing AIDS vaccine trials. Results from the first low dose trial indicate a good safety profile as well as positive immune responses in human volunteers receiving a one-tenth dose of the vaccine. Results from a second larger full dose trial also indicate a good safety profile in participants.

The vaccines being tested are designed to prevent the development of AIDS by vaccinating individuals prior to infection with the virus.

According to the report, the vaccine uses a decoy virus with some of the genetic material of the AIDS virus — but not enough for anyone to get the disease itself from the shot.

Early results from GeoVax’s preventative HIV/AIDS vaccine human trials indicate an acceptable safety profile in an ongoing full dose trial begun in September 2006 suggesting that a full dose of the vaccine will stimulate an even better immune response in recipients participating in the full dose trial.

The data also supports accelerated planning for a second and larger human trial, including more than 300 participants across North and South America and the Caribbean.

“We are very encouraged by the positive immune responses in six human volunteers receiving only one-tenth of a dose of vaccine,” said Dr. Harriet Robinson, GeoVax’s Chief Scientific Advisor and developer of the AIDS vaccine.

In an interview with Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, Don Hildebrand, the president and CEO of GeoVax, talked about the exciting revelations.

“We’re getting results back that indicate we’re getting very strong immune responses in these individuals who received our vaccine,” said Hildebrand.

“It exposes your immune system to a pathogen like a virus or bacteria, so before you’ve seen it you set up memory cells,” Robinson said, “and then these memory cells mobilize should you get the actual infection.”

The test trials have been so successful that the vaccine is now more than a year ahead of schedule.

The vaccine works using a one-two pharmaceutical punch to prime the body then kill the virus.
“It raises both antibodies that can block the virus and it raises white blood cells called T-cells that can kill the virus infected cells,” said Robinson. “So it really has two methods of controlling an HIV/AIDS infection once it enters the body.”

The vaccine’s success with the simian AIDS virus has been nothing short of remarkable. Not only did the vaccine prevent the infection, it kept it under control for the monkeys that already had it, putting it in a kind of remission.

Researchers believe the same benefits await human subjects.

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