By Tammy Gay
University of Kentucky was chosen as a participation
site in this Merck vaccination study because of our
past experience in testing HIV drugs."
Richard N. Greenberg, MD., principal investigator
at UK of this study
26, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) --
University of Kentucky College of Medicine Division
of Infectious Disease researchers currently are recruiting
healthy individuals to participate in a study of an
HIV vaccine, sponsored by Merck and Co., Inc. Preliminary
data about the Merck vaccine was released today to
scientists world-wide through a major presentation
at the Ninth Annual Conference on Retroviruses and
Opportunistic Infections being held in Seattle, Wash.
I clinical trial will test the safety and tolerability
of two investigational HIV vaccines in 126 healthy
individuals nationwide. UK is starting its volunteer
participated in more than 50 HIV drug trials in the
past 10 years. However, this will be the first trial
involving healthy people, rather than HIV patients,
said Richard N. Greenberg, M.D., professor of internal
medicine in the UK College of Medicine and principal
investigator of the study.
of Kentucky was chosen as a participation site in
this Merck vaccination study because of our past experience
in testing HIV drugs," Greenberg said.
investigational vaccines will include an element of
HIV known as Gag, or HIV-1 Gag DNA, a man-made copy
of one of the HIV genes. Because the vaccines are
man-made, they do not contain any live virus and will
not result in HIV infection.
of the study is to evaluate the effect of these vaccines
on the immune system's ability to produce T-cell responses
and antibodies against HIV," Greenberg said. "We are
starting to see responses to these vaccines that mimic
similar responses in someone fighting HIV."
vaccines are different from earlier vaccines because
they involve producing cytotoxic lymphocytes or CTLs,
known as "killer cells," which destroy cells infected
with a virus, killing them before they can reproduce.
The earlier vaccines produced antibodies, which targeted
the outer shell or envelope of the virus. So far,
research efforts have found that antibodies alone
are ineffective in protecting against HIV.
Merck vaccines target another arm of the immune system,
the CTLs. CTLs now appear more likely to succeed in
preventing or controlling HIV.
study vaccines, the Gag protein is put into a deactivated
cold virus, the outer shell of an adenovirus. This
outershell delivers the HIV protein to the body, exposing
Gag to the immune system including CTLs. Then, the
lymphocytes are put into a memory state, so if a person
is exposed to the HIV virus, the cells should be ready
to kill it.
there were 2,560 people living with HIV as of June
2000, and 1,844 living with AIDS as of December 2001,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
UK's HIV health care providers follow more than 500
the study, neither the researcher nor the study participant
will know whether the vaccine or a placebo is being
administered until the study is complete.
must be a healthy adult, ages 18 to 50; have no history
of chronic illness; weigh more than 110 pounds; not
taking a daily prescription other than birth control
pills; have no history of alcohol abuse; have not
used IV drugs in the past year; have not had a sexual
partner who is infected with HIV or is an active drug
user; and has not been diagnosed or treated for a
sexually transmitted disease in the last six months.
Participants will be compensated for their time.
interested in participating in the study, should call
(859) 323-3933 or (859) 323-6327.