Applied bioTechnology Inc.'s SIV vaccine appears to be thefirst AIDS-like vaccine to stimulate the production of killer Tcells in animals.

SIV is a monkey virus that causes AIDS-like symptoms inprimates. Scientists at AbT of Cambridge, Mass., and theHarvard Medical School injected monkeys with a vaccinia viruscontaining the env, gag and pol genes of SIV.

The researchers, reporting Thursday in Science, found that thevaccine stimulated the production of killer T white blood cellsthat seek out and destroy virus-infected cells. The vaccine alsoled to antibody production and helper T cell growth.

Dennis Panicali, AbT's vice president of product development,told BioWorld that the company has also developed a humanimmunodeficiency virus-equivalent of the vaccine thatstimulates antibody and helper T cell production in monkeys.He said he would be amazed if the HIV vaccine did not alsoboost killer T cell growth. AbT expects to begin clinical trials ofthe HIV vaccine early next year.


Researchers have taken a first step in showing the potential ofan aerosol spray delivery system to cure hereditary lungdiseases like cystic fibrosis (CF) and alpha-1-antitrypsin (a1-AT) deficiency.

Dr. Ronald Crystal of the National Institutes of Health and hiscolleagues, including three from Transgene SA in Strasbourg,France, administered an adenovirus vector containing the a1-AT gene to rats by applying drops into the trachea. Rats treatedwith the a1-AT gene synthesized and secreted a1-AT proteininto their lung fluid for at least one week, an article in today'sissue of Science reports.

The a1-AT protease inhibitor protects the lungs from proteindegradation by neutrophil elastase. Reduced levels of a1-ATleads to emphysema. Deficiency of a1-AT and CF are the twomost common lethal hereditary disorders among Caucasians.

The authors suggest that aerosol administration of the a1-ATgene will be more effective than applying drops into thetrachea. They propose using a similar strategy to administerthe CF gene to afflicted individuals.

Genzyme Inc. (NASDAQ:GENZ), of Boston is developing a viral-based aerosol system to deliver the CF protein to the lungs ofCF patients.

-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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