Biocine Co.'s gp120 AIDS vaccine will be tested for the firsttime in people in a Phase I trial to begin at San FranciscoGeneral Hospital (SFG) this week.

Biocine, a joint venture between Chiron Corp. of Emeryville,Calif., and Ciba-Geigy Ltd. of Basel, Switzerland, manufacturesthe vaccine, a recombinant version of a viral coat protein. Therecombinant gp120 was designed from a strain of HIV calledSF2 isolated at the University of California, San Francisco.

In animal studies, the protein elicited neutralizing antibodiesagainst strains isolated from the United States, Europe, theCaribbean and Africa.

SFG will recruit 34 healthy volunteers who are not infectedwith HIV. The gp120 protein will be administered with anadjuvant, a compound that boosts the immune system'sresponse to foreign proteins, called MF59/MTP-PE.

SFG investigator James Kahn, who is directing the gp120 trial,last week announced early results from a similar volunteertrial of HPG-30, the core protein vaccine being developed byViral Technologies Inc. The HPG-30 vaccine induced killer cellactivity, as well as stimulation of T cell replication in the 16HIV-negative volunteers tested so far.

Kahn has declined to comment further on the HPG-30 results,saying it is still too early to evaluate the vaccine's clinicalprotential.

The trial of HPG-30 will be testing a total of 24 volunteers.Viral Technologies Inc. is a joint venture of Alpha 1Biomedicals Inc. of Washington D.C. and Cel-Sci Corp. ofAlexandria, Va. -- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

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