- TRENTON (AP) -- Pharmaceutical
giant Merck & Co. said yesterday that it has started the first global
human tests of an experimental AIDS vaccine, working with the Seattle-based
HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
- The experiment, which will include about 435 adult volunteers
not infected with the HIV virus, is meant to determine if the vaccine candidate
is safe, has tolerable side effects and is practical to administer in different
parts of the world.
- Researchers will also determine whether the vaccine stimulates
an immune response in people.
- The study is being conducted in 18 cities in North America,
South America, the Caribbean, southern Africa and Southeast Asia. Using
such diverse testing sites is important because different strains of the
HIV virus circulate in different regions.
- The vaccine is made from a modified cold virus and does
not contain any live HIV virus, so it cannot cause HIV infection.
- Merck currently is running tests of other potential HIV
vaccines on people, including an experiment announced earlier this week
in which it is testing combination of one of its experimental AIDS vaccines
and another from Aventis Pasteur. Merck began doing human tests of experimental
HIV vaccines in late 1999.
- The vaccine trials network is supported by the National
Institutes of the Health. (AP)