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VOLUNTEERS OFFER TO RISK LIVE-VIRUS AIDS VACCINE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

A group of doctors and public health advocates say AIDS research is so important that they are willing to risk their lives by being the first humans to be injected with a vaccine consisting of a live, though weakened, strain of HIV.

The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, based in Chicago, wants to conduct the test involving about 50 volunteers. The group intends to talk with National Institutes of Health officials about the idea.

Gordon Nary, executive director of the Chicago group and one of the trial's volunteers, said the risks of being in the study are diminished by what can be learned from it.

AIDS vaccine development is a slow process because of the safety measures and rigorous animal testing needed before injecting humans with a trial vaccine.

``Vaccine development has really dragged on because there is an assumption by conservative scientists that people won't step up and do this,'' Nary said.

AIDS research efforts have focused on vaccines that do not involve a live virus because of fear that even a weakened, live human immunodeficiency virus strain might be capable of causing AIDS or other problems.

``I'm not . . . suicidal,'' Nary said. ``There are 1,000 HIV-infected babies born daily. If there is a risk of HIV infection (during vaccine trials), which I don't think is significant, it's overwhelmingly outbalanced by the fact that there isn't anyone who has worked with these babies who isn't going to do it.''

Dr. Mark Grabowsky of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is skeptical of the proposed study and says it's premature to talk about injecting healthy people with a live vaccine.

Nonetheless, Grabowsky said: ``I admire them. That kind of activism can't help but be inspiring. But the scientific questions still remain.''

Grabowsky said he has invited the group to discuss the project with him and other scientists next week at the National Institutes of Health offices in Rockville, Md.

The group wants approval from the Food and Drug Administration but intends to go on even without an OK from the FDA, said Dr. Charles Farthing, the study's leader and medical director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.

The group could proceed with its trial without FDA approval by containing the study to one state or conducting it in Europe.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 22, 1997
Words:385
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