Swedish researchers have expressed hope regarding the DNA vaccine trials conducted against the AIDS/HIV virus. The first phase of the clinical trials have already been completed among 40 HIV- negative volunteers.
DNA vaccines represent the latest innovation in the area of vaccine biology. It involves direct injection of one or more genes coding for specific antigens into the human body. These vaccines precipitate an immune response so that the body's defense mechanism recognize and destroy the virus once it enters the living system.
'The technology is highly promising for producing simple, inexpensive and heat-stable vaccines,' according to health experts at International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
Although the study is not yet over, the researchers are very positive about the outcome of the clinical trial. 'There is every reason to be hopeful, even though the study is not finished,' said Professor Britta Wahren who developed the vaccine. Furthermore, no vaccine related side effects have been documented so far.
The second phase trial, targeted at testing the effectiveness of the vaccine to enhance the immune response, is due to end next May or June. The third phase of the clinical trial is hoped to take place in Tanzania. The ability of the vaccine to limit the effects of the virus in HIV infected persons would be tested in the thrid phase.
Clinical trials for new vaccines undergo three phases of intensive research work before it can be marketed for commercial use. The prospective vaccine is being tested on a small group of volunteers to assess the safety and efficacy in the first phase. Followed by successful completion of this phase, it moves on the second and third phase where it goes through progressively wider trials, among thousands of volunteers.
More than 30 candidate AIDS vaccines are currently being tested worldwide. The increased financial grants for AIDS is said to have prompted for this global competition.
Detractors have raised skeptical concerns regarding the materialization of a DNA vaccine for HIV infection. The situation though seems promising with such clinical trials reporting success from time to time.