The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), along with The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a New York based organization, are planning to conduct Phase I HIV prime-boost vaccine trials in Chennai and Pune.
The preliminary results of the Phase I MVA ((Modified Vacinia Anacara) vaccine that had undergone trial at Tuberculosis Research Center (TRC) have successfully proved the vaccine's safety and its ability to stimulate immune response (that might provide protection against infection). The final results are expected to arrive very soon.
"The Phase I trial of an MVA-based AIDS vaccine candidate (TBC-M4) was conducted at the TRC in Chennai. The preliminary results of the trial showed that the vaccine candidate was generally safe and well tolerated and the frequency of immune responses by volunteers after three injections was good. The phase I trial is over, and the final data is under analysis," said Dr Sonali Kochar, medical director, IAVI India.
The preliminary success of the trial with the MVA (Modified Vacinia Anacara)-based vaccine candidate (TBC-M4) follows the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in Pune closing down research with another vaccine candidate AAV (Adena-Associated Virus) in December 2007 after tests in Germany and Belgium, with the same vaccine candidate failed.
The MVA vaccine that has undergone Phase I trial at the TRC cannot cure HIV. Like most HIV vaccines being tested all over the world, the MVA vaccine cannot prevent HIV infection. It can only help reduce the chances of infecting others and stop the infected person from progressing to a disease state i.e. AIDS.
The prime boost strategy is to conduct a Phase I trial using ADVAX as a prime and MVA as a boost. It is expected to improve the immune response and thus make the vaccine more efficacious.
The trial that will be at NARI and TRC simultaneously, involves a control group which would be given a placebo and one group that would be given only MVA and another both ADVAX and MVA.
The ADVAX is a DNA-based vaccine that contains a few HIV genes, while MVA is a vector that contains six HIV genes. The ADVAX has been tested in the United States.