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New public-private partnerships to hasten testing of AIDS vaccines

June 28, 2000
Web posted at: 11:58 a.m. EDT (1558 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Officials of a federal health agency announced on Tuesday four new public-private partnerships designed to accelerate development of HIV-AIDS vaccines.

Contracts for the partnerships provide incentives to bring particularly encouraging vaccines "out of the laboratory and into human testing," said a statement from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Institute officials expect to spend approximately $70 million during the next five years on the four research contracts, which seek to combine the resources and talents of private industry and academic-research centers, according to NIAID.

"Many vaccines in use today resulted from both government-sponsored and private research," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the institute.

The four new partnerships are "a unique addition to this model that encourages the private sector to increase their AIDS vaccine efforts while allowing (the institute) to work closely with its partners throughout the development process," said Fauci.

Designing and testing vaccines for diseases like AIDS is expensive and scientifically complex, the statement said, with no guarantees of success and little likelihood of significant profit

Peggy Johnston, Ph.D., assistant director for AIDS vaccines at NIAID, said the partnerships partially offset financial risk and thereby encourage "pharmaceutical companies to invest more in AIDS vaccine research."

The contracts, she said, "'prime the pump' to get the vaccine-production engine running, including vaccine candidates for HIV subtypes that circulate in developing countries."

The contracts are aimed at boosting potential vaccines that are not yet in clinical testing. The incentive-based contracts provide funding in increments as preset milestones are reached.

The four partnership research programs are:

  • Advanced Bioscience Laboratories Inc., of Kensington, Maryland.
    Researchers from the company and the University of Massachusetts Medical School will try to develop a vaccine that works on various HIV subtypes found around the world.

  • Chiron Corp., Emeryville, California.
    The company will try to produce vaccines for two HIV subtypes, one commonly found in the United States and the other found in sub-Saharan Africa and India.

  • University of New South Wales, Australia.
    A consortium of Australian universities and research organizations will try to produce a vaccine that will stimulate an immune response in mucosal tissue -- the first site of attack during most HIV infections.

  • Wyeth Lederle Vaccines and Nutrition, Pearl River, New York.
    The company will work with academic researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University to produce a vaccine that strongly stimulates HIV-specific immune responses in very diverse human populations.

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    April 28, 1999
    Massive trial of AIDS vaccine to begin in Thailand
    February 10, 1999

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