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Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Launch Trial of AIDS Vaccine

January 18, 2006

NAIROBI, Kenya - January 18, 2006 —The Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) today announced the start of a clinical trial in Nairobi, Kenya of a candidate AIDS vaccine designed to prevent HIV/AIDS caused by multiple subtypes of HIV.  This novel vaccine is also being researched in other countries throughout Africa and the world.

The trial is being conducted by University of Nairobi’s Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative, in collaboration with IAVI/East Africa.  The candidate, developed by NIAID’s Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC), is designed as a preventive vaccine to protect uninfected people from getting AIDS.

“This marks an important step in the world-wide battle to stop the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” said Minister of Health Charity Ngilu. “Kenya is proud to be a leader in the effort to find an AIDS vaccine, which would be the best solution to the global AIDS crisis.”

“We know that in the search for an AIDS vaccine, many different vaccines will need to be tested.  Kenyan scientists are proud to have had long-term experience with this research, and to be on the forefront of promising new vaccine candidates,” said Prof. Job Bwayo of KAVI, Principal Investigator for the trial.

The Nairobi study is a small-scale trial, with a primary aim to evaluate the safety of the product.  The vaccine was tested in similar trials in the U.S., and researchers acknowledge the importance of gathering preliminary data on the ability of the candidate vaccine to stimulate immune responses against HIV/AIDS in Kenyan volunteers.  The candidate will also be tested in other regions to ensure that data on the vaccine is collected from diverse populations.

“IAVI has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the excellent investigators at KAVI, which is a primary factor for our decision to launch the study in the country,” said Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of IAVI.  “The trial of NIAID’s promising vaccine reflects the successful alliance among U.S. and African government agencies, local communities, global organizations, and academic institutions. Only by fostering relationships between global partners and leveraging all of our expertise will we be able to discover an AIDS vaccine.”

The VRC candidate incorporates HIV genes from three different subtypes (A, B, and C) of the virus.  These subtypes are most commonly found in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and parts of Asia, and represent about 85 percent of the HIV infections worldwide.

The product comprises two components, which differ in how the HIV genes are packaged.  One contains naked DNA fragments from some of the HIV genes; the other consists of the same genes in a carrier made from a respiratory virus, known as adenovirus. Because only portions of viruses are used, the vaccine cannot result in infection either with HIV or the respiratory virus.

This study of the NIAID VRC vaccine is also currently being conducted by Project San Francisco in Kigali, Rwanda.  The United States Military HIV Research Program (USMHRP) plans to collaborate with investigators in Kenya, and in Uganda and Tanzania, to conduct a similar study once regulatory authorities approve. In addition, the vaccine is also being evaluated in trials in North America, and will be evaluated in South Africa, South America, and the Caribbean through the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) pending appropriate regulatory review and approval in those countries.

Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative
KAVI is a Kenya-based research organization, developed in collaboration with the University of Nairobi and Oxford University, and supported by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.  KAVI’s mission is to contribute to a world without AIDS by developing a safe, effective and affordable preventive HIV vaccine. It collaborates with international partners to develop a vaccine that is effective in protecting vaccinated individuals from getting HIV/AIDS. KAVI has conducted AIDS vaccine studies in Kenya since 2001.  For more information, see

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization working to accelerate the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. Founded in 1996 and operational in 23 countries, IAVI and its network of collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates.  IAVI also advocates for a vaccine to be a global priority and works to assure that a future vaccine will be accessible to all who need it.  IAVI's financial and in-kind supporters include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Starr Foundation; the Governments of Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Basque Country; multilateral organizations such as the World Bank; corporate donors including BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.), Continental Airlines, DHL and Pfizer; leading AIDS charities such as Crusaid, Deutsche AIDS Stiftung, and the Until There's A Cure Foundation; and other private donors such as the Haas Charitable Trusts.

U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID)
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from newly emerging viruses. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.


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