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July 31, 2003

School Participates in AlphaVax HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is one of four sites conducting the first human trials of a new HIV vaccine candidate from AlphaVax, Inc. The vaccine uses the company's novel ArV vaccine technology, which was originally developed by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) and the University of North Carolina. ArV utilizes a non-propagating form of an alphavirus vector that has been engineered to carry and express the HIV gene.

Donald Burke, MD, director of the School's Center for Immunization Research and professor of international health, is a principal investigator of the trial, which will evaluate the ArV technology's safety and immune potential. The trial is being started in four sites in the U.S. and will then expand to include sites in Soweto and Durban, South Africa. It will involve 48 non-HIV infected participants in each country at four different dose levels using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Trial participants are being counseled periodically to reduce risky behavior. The vaccine candidate uses an HIV gene from the subtype of the virus that is prevalent in South Africa, but does not use live virus.

The trial is being conducted by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), which is funded and supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. Other U.S. trial sites include Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Rochester. The South African institutions are the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto and the Medical Research Council in Durban.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu. Photographs of Donald Burke are available upon request.