BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT
One of the potential vaccine candidates against
HIV currently under clinical studies in India is
learnt to be showing promising results.
The candidate vaccine recombinant Modified
Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) being trailed at the
National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) in
Chennai has demonstrated efficacy in statistically
significant sample, according to senior officials
with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
who run the trials.
The vaccine targets HIV-1 subtype C, the most
predominant HIV strain in India.
"The HIV vaccine if it works 30 per cent could be
administered to 40 per cent of the population. It
could bring down the infection by five million
people,’’stated a top ICMR official recently in
Bangalore, southern India.
The investigational vaccine candidate, TBC-M4, is
designed as a preventive vaccine to protect people
who are not infected with HIV from contracting
HIV/AIDS. If the vaccine could prove effective
upto 50 per cent, it could bring down the
infection by about 17 million, he stated.
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)
and biotechnology firm Therion Biologics
Corporation (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
collaborated on the development of the AIDS
vaccine candidate utilising MVA vector technology.
Therion, with the assistance of Dr Sekhar
Chakrabarti, an Indian Scientist from the National
Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata,
designed the candidate and manufactured doses of
it for initial clinical trials.
The Chennai study is a small-scale trial, with a
primary aim to evaluate the safety of the product.
Goals also include gathering preliminary data on
the ability of the vaccine candidate to stimulate
immune responses against HIV/AIDS. Researchers are
pursuing multiple vaccine candidates
simultaneously because it is not certain which of
many possible designs may prove effective.
Prof. N. K. Ganguly, Director General, ICMR added,
“The pipeline of promising vaccines is growing,
yet several clinical trials will be needed
worldwide to select the best candidates for
further development stages. Along with India’s
first AIDS vaccine trial – launched in Pune last
February -- the Chennai study will play an
important role in advancing the global search for
viable strategies to combat HIV/AIDS”.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is
the apex body in India for the formulation,
coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
It was founded in 1911 and is one of the oldest
medical research bodies in the world. The Council
promotes research in the country through 21
Permanent Research Centres.
The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) is
the nodal organisation for formulation of policy
and implementation of programmes for the
prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India. And
the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)
is a global not-for-profit organisation 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
ICMR director general Dr NK Ganguly said, that the
modified vaccina ankara (MVA) vaccine, which has
been tested at NIE, Chennai, has indicated
potential promise. ICMR is gearing up to start a
combined vaccine trials with two vaccines Adeno
Associated Virus (AAV) and MVA and take it to
BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT