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New partnership to accelerate AIDS vaccine testing, equip developing countries for trials

December 13, 2001

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative opens central laboratory with Imperial College and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) pledges US$1 million

LONDON, 13 December 2001-A new international public-private partnership will help ensure that promising candidates for a vaccine to prevent AIDS advance rapidly through human testing and that developing countries-particularly in Africa and Asia-have the supplies and training needed to conduct their own vaccine trials.

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, in part with grants from US medical technology firm BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company; NYSE: BDX), have opened a laboratory to serve as a clearinghouse for coordinating the evaluation of AIDS vaccine candidates as they complete human trials at sites worldwide. The laboratory is located in London, at St Stephen's Centre, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The laboratory is part of IAVI's work to accelerate AIDS vaccine development by pursuing varied vaccine approaches in parallel. IAVI's strategy is to compare vaccines head-to-head in early human trials, so that the best designs can be prioritized for further development and testing. Over the next few years, IAVI plans to sponsor human trials of at least 12 AIDS vaccine candidates-two already are in trials in Kenya and the UK-and these vaccines will be evaluated with assistance from the central London laboratory.

"Each month shaved from AIDS vaccine development saves nearly a half million lives," said Dr. Seth Berkley, President and CEO of IAVI. "We must do everything we can to speed vaccine development so we can end this horrible epidemic."

"The world must assure that promising AIDS vaccines are tested in humans as quickly as possible. Never can we compromise safety, but neither can we tolerate unnecessary delay," said Dr. Frances Gotch, Professor of Immunology at Imperial College and head of the new IAVI-Imperial College laboratory at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Key to the laboratory's mission is to provide training for developing country scientists and access to the most modern equipment. Initially, the London facility will work with IAVI-sponsored vaccine development teams now or soon to be testing AIDS vaccine candidates in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, India and China, as well as in the US and UK.

The laboratory has been outfitted with state-of-the-art vaccine testing tools, in part by grants to IAVI from BD. BD's commitment includes both a direct contribution of US$1 million and a donation of a BD FACSCalibur™ Automated Cell Analysis System from BD Biosciences, a business segment of BD, valued at US$100,000. This represents the largest ever direct financial contribution from a private company to IAVI's global AIDS vaccine development program. In addition, BD Biosciences will collaborate with IAVI to help monitor immune responses to the vaccines under study.

"We need world-class scientists engaged everywhere in the hunt for vaccines. Particularly in developing countries where AIDS is taking the worst toll, accelerating vaccine testing is critical," said Deborah J. Neff, President of BD Biosciences.

The laboratory will facilitate collaboration among vaccine research teams by assisting them to standardize the tests used to determine whether an AIDS vaccine candidate is working in human trials.

"Until now, the global effort to find AIDS vaccines has been fragmented, with researchers unable to compare their results and learn from each other because they are using different methods to assess their vaccines," said Dr. Wayne Koff, IAVI's Senior Vice President for Research and Development. "Coordination among vaccine researchers is critical, because there is no one recipe for a winning AIDS vaccine, and a breakthrough product is likely to emerge only through a joint effort."

Update on the global AIDS epidemic

The latest statistics from the United Nations estimate that new HIV infections are occurring at a rate of 5 million a year: more than 3 million in sub-Saharan Africa and nearly 2 million annually in Asia. In total, 40 million men, women and children are estimated to be living with HIV, and another 25 million have died of AIDS since the disease was first identified in 1981. read more >>

About IAVI
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI, www.iavi.org) is a global nonprofit organization working to speed scientific progress toward finding safe, effective and accessible preventive AIDS vaccines. To date, IAVI has invested more than US$35 million in six cross-national product development teams, each pursuing one or more AIDS vaccine possibilities for Africa or Asia. IAVI also works to guarantee that AIDS vaccines, once found, will be swiftly distributed to all who need them.
IAVI, founded in 1996, draws major support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Rockefeller, Sloan and Starr foundations; the World Bank; and the governments of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, United States and Norway. IAVI is a collaborating centre of UNAIDS.

About Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (www.ic.ac.uk) is the largest applied science, technology and medicine university in the UK. It is consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions for research quality, with one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP339 million in 1999-2000) and research incomes (UKP176 million in 1999-2000).

About BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) and BD Biosciences
BD is a medical technology company that serves health care institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, industry and the general public. BD manufactures and sells a broad range of medical supplies, devices, laboratory equipment and diagnostic products.

BD Biosciences is a business segment of BD and is one of the world's largest businesses supporting the life sciences. BD Biosciences is a provider of products and services to accelerate biomedical discovery and diagnosis. Its strengths include expertise in molecular biology, cellular biology, immunology and cell analysis; innovative product development; and global reach. Clinicians and researchers throughout the world use BD Biosciences tools to study genes, proteins and cells to better understand disease, to improve technologies for diagnosis and disease management and to facilitate the discovery and development of novel therapeutics.

About Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust
The St. Stephen's Centre at Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust is the largest HIV Unit in Europe, caring for nearly 4,000 patients living with HIV and AIDS across the UK. The Trust has recently embarked upon a multi-million pound redevelopment scheme to improve HIV services and clinical research. This includes the refurbishment of the renowned Kobler Clinic, the first-ever service designed for HIV patients opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, 13 September 1988.