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June 4, 2003


Hope Clinic at Emory Vaccine Center Seeks Volunteers for New AIDS Vaccine Clinical Trial

ATLANTA--Researchers at the Emory Vaccine Center’s Hope Clinic are seeking healthy volunteers for a study of a new investigational vaccine being developed by Merck & Co., Inc. for the prevention of HIV. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the safety of the vaccine and to assess the vaccine’s ability to stimulate immune responses against HIV in immunized volunteers.

Study participants may be males or females between the ages of 18 and 50. They must be healthy, HIV negative, hepatitis B and C negative, and at low risk of HIV infection. Participants may not be pregnant. The study will last approximately 18 months. Participants will visit the Hope Clinic, located in downtown Decatur, on three occasions for injections in the arm of either vaccine or saltwater (placebo). Volunteers will be divided into three groups and randomly selected to receive either three doses of vaccine; two doses of vaccine and one dose of placebo; or three doses of placebo. Volunteers will return to the Hope Clinic for follow up on 24 occasions, during which investigators will draw blood for laboratory examination of immune responses. The study is placebo-controlled and double-blinded, which means that neither volunteers nor investigators will know until the conclusion of the study who has received vaccine and who has received placebo. Volunteers will be asked to keep a record of injections received, along with any side effects that occur throughout the study. Following the initial study, participants will return for follow-up visits once a year for about three and a half years.

The current vaccine approach builds upon earlier studies of related HIV vaccines in more than 300 healthy volunteers, using an adenovirus as a "vector" to deliver a few of the genes from the HIV virus. Results of these earlier studies indicate that this vaccine approach is the most effective at raising desirable anti-HIV immune responses of any candidate HIV vaccine tested to date. The experimental vaccine cannot cause HIV infection or AIDS because it contains copies of only a few, and not all, of the HIV genes.

Principal investigator for the study is Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, medical director of the Hope Clinic and professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology in Emory University School of Medicine.

Compensation will be provided for time and travel expenses. The Hope Clinic is located at 603 Church Street, Decatur. For more information, please call 877-424-HOPE.

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