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GENETIC VACCINATION PROCEDURE PRODUCES EFFECTIVE IMMUNE RESPONSE TO HUMAN AIDS VIRUS; STUDY SUGGESTS GENETIC VACCINATION FOR AIDS

 /ADVANCE/ PHILADELPHIA, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center have used genetic vaccination to produce, for the first time in a live animal, an effective immune response to the human AIDS virus.
 The work was completed in the laboratory of David B. Weiner, Ph.D., and reported by Dr. Bin Wang, Weiner and their colleagues in the May 1 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. This report suggests that the same approach, applied directly to use in humans, might lead to an effective vaccine for the prevention or treatment of AIDS.
 The research team injected genes from the human AIDS virus directly into the muscle tissue of laboratory mice to produce an immune response. Tiny pieces of DNA, called plasmids, served as the transport carriages to get the viral genes into the muscle cells.
 The genes, transferred into the muscle cells of the inoculated mice, produced viral proteins that served to immunize the animals against the virus. "Our vaccination technique provides an effective immune response against the AIDS virus in this animal model," said Weiner, assistant professor at The Wistar Institute and Wistar assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The response generated involves both the production of antibodies which completely inhibit the AIDS virus from infecting cells, and the stimulation of immune cells, called killer T cells, which destroy virus-infected cells. "The production of killer cells is an essential component of an effective response against the AIDS virus," noted Weiner. "This vaccination technique should be safer than using a live virus vaccine because there is no reproducing virus present that might be mutated back to a type that could cause disease," he added.
 Throughout the decades of vaccine development, researchers have long discussed the merits and faults of using "live" vs. "killed" virus vaccines. "While that dialogue continues, Dr. Weiner and his colleagues have developed a genetic vaccination method that appears to manifest the advantages of each approach," said Dr. William Williams, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a collaborator on the study.
 In Weiner's study, the genetic vaccination produced a combined cellular and antibody-producing immune response that duplicated the effectiveness of an attenuated live-virus vaccine, while maintaining the safety of a killed-virus or recombinant protein vaccine.
 Currently, the safety and efficacy of a prototype genetic vaccine are being evaluated in primates by Weiner and scientists from Apollon, Inc., a


pharmaceutical company based in Malvern, Pa. These efforts are expected to lead to a clinical trial that will evaluate the safety of Apollon's human genetic vaccine for the AIDS virus.
 This research has been supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the Institute for Biotechnology and Advanced Molecular Medicine, a subsidiary of the Technology Council of Greater Philadelphia; and by Apollon. Besides Wang, Weiner and Williams, participating investigators in this study included Drs. Vasantha Srikantan, Kesen Dang, Yosef Refaeli, Alice I. Sato and Jean Boyer from Penn, and also Kenneth E. Ugen and Michael G. Agadjanyan from The Wistar Institute.
 /delval/
 -0- 4/30/93/1800
 /CONTACT: David Weiner, Ph.D., of The Wistar Institute, 215-662-2352 or 215-349-8365/


CO: The Wistar Institute ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:

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