28 de septiembre de 2011

Spanish scientists trial HIV vaccine

Spanish scientists trial HIV vaccine

In a joint project involving the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología - CSIC and the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid and Barcelona's Clinical Hospital, first stage clinical trials of a preventive HIV vaccine are under way.

Twenty-four healthy patients - aged between 18-55 and considered to be low risk potential AIDS sufferers - will be given three doses of the MVA-B vaccine over a twelve month period to see if they are capable of generating defences against the HIV protein. Six others will be given a placebo. If it is proven that the vaccine is safe and effective in building a defence against the virus, second and third stage trials will be conducted to analyse required dosage and efficiency.

This first trial of a Phase One vaccine in Spain has been developed by Mariano Esteban and patented by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). The volunteers will be given a dose of MVA-B – a vector that uses the smallpox virus pieces of nuclear DNA including four HIV proteins – in order to check whether it can be use safely.

This vector is a modification of the vaccina virus employed when smallpox was eradicated, explained Mariano Esteban. Although it produces the HIV antigens it’s unable of replication inside human cells. According to Dr. Felipe García they “don’t use the whole HIV virus, only some of the proteins; hence it cannot infect the patients”.

It is hoped that the vaccine, which will take around ten years to be approved, will stop the virus developing in infected patients even without the need for ongoing medication. Felipe García at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona and Juan Carlos López Bernaldo de Quirós at the Hospital General Gregorio Marañón in Madrid will follow the patients for 14 months.

The trial comes after two years of laboratory tests and two more of tests in rodents and primates. In these, the immune response induced in monkeys was enough to protect them against the simian immunodeficiency virus.

According to estimates from the UNAIDS 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, around 33 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2007. Spain, despite a 17% fall in reported new cases last year, is one of the countries in western Europe more affected with a disease that cause about 3 million deaths worldwide every year.

With the last failures in the quest for an AIDS vaccine, Dr. López Bernaldo de Quirós thinks “it’s a new hope in a research field full with bad news”. With this type of trials only being done in the biggest research centres of USA and Europe, it’s a real effort for Spanish scientists. The collaborations among three important institutions could make the difference

Press Contact: Alfonso Mora (Outreach Manager) Phone: +34 915 854 842 amora@cnb.csic.es