Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Health24 - News Pioneers join to fight Aids
November 19, 2002
Two pioneers in Aids research who had fallen out bitterly over the discovery of the virus which causes the disease announced that they had joined forces to devise a trial vaccine.

The scheme, announced at a meeting in the capital of the West African state of Cameroon, brings together Luc Montagnier of France and Robert Gallo of the United States, who were jointly credited with identifying the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Making the vaccine a top priority for Africa
Gallo said the two had devised a candidate vaccine against HIV, clinical trials for which could start in the next 18 months.

"If it works, I swear I'll do everything I can to make it a top priority for Africa," he said.

In the nearly two decades since HIV was identified as the cause of a fatal disease of the immune system, the quest for a vaccine has been a notoriously neglected area.

No vaccine past phase-three trials yet
Numerous trial vaccines have been put to clinical trial, the term for testing them on human volunteers to see whether they are safe and effective.

But none has so far cleared the three-phase procedure and is on public release.

Only one - AIDSVAX - has so far made it to the Phase III stage, for testing on a large batch of volunteers, and its results are expected in the first quarter of next year.

Another vaccine hopeful, a combination of AIDSVAX and ALVAC-HIV, made by Aventis Pasteur of France, is being launched in Thailand later this year among 16 000 volunteers.

Preventing mother-to-child transmission
Montagnier told the meeting that he and Gallo were also working on a vaccine to help reduce risk of HIV transmission from infected mothers to their babies via breast milk.

The vaccine could be added to the tuberculosis jab, he hoped.

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