Viral Technologies Inc. (VTI), the jointly owned subsidiary ofCel-Sci Corp. and Alpha 1 Biomedicals Inc., has received aEuropean patent on its HGP-30 AIDS vaccine, the companiesannounced Wednesday.

The allowed claims of the patent, which bears the EuropeanPatent application No. 87304345.9, cover peptides from thep17 core protein of HIV, including HGP-30, the 30-amino acidpeptide that is the key ingredient of the HGP-30 AIDS vaccine.

Also covered are claims directed to immunogenic antigens inwhich the peptides are covalently bonded to an immunogeniccarrier material, vaccines based on these peptides, antibodiesspecific to these peptides and monoclonal antibodies basedthere on, antisera, and diagnostic kits and in vitro diagnosticassays.

Viral Technologies of Bethesda. Md., already has a U.S. patent,granted in January 1991, on HGP-30, but its coverage is not asbroad, said Geert Kersten, the chief operating officer of Cel-Sciof Alexandria, Va. (NASDAQ:CELI).

HGP-30 is a synthetic copy of a part of the p17 core protein ofthe HIV virus, unlike other vaccine candidates that consist ofrecombinant viral envelope proteins or even whole killed virus.HGP-30's sequence is highly conserved in many HIV strains; italso contains both T and B cell epitopes, and therefore couldpotentially elicit both cell-mediated immunity and serumantibodies against the HIV virus.

HGP-30 has been evaluated for safety in two clinical trialsconducted on healthy, HIV-negative individuals. The first trialwas conducted at St. Stephen's Hospital in London, and thesecond was conducted at the LAC-USC Medical Center and SanFrancisco General Hospital.

The results of both studies showed HGP-30 to be well-tolerated. In the U.S. trials, at least, "some individuals showed Tcell responses, including the ability to elicit cytotoxic killer Tcells," according to Allan Goldstein, a founder of Alpha 1Biomedicals (NASDAQ:ALBM) of Bethesda.

The California-based trial is a long-term, ongoing test of thevaccine's ability to induce a long-term response. "They haven'treceived an injection in over a year," Kersten told BioWorld."We'll be giving them a booster in about two months to see ifwe're getting a good memory response (by the B cells or Tcells). We think it's the T cell response -- not the antibodyresponse -- that's the only way to kill cells infected with HIV."

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.