An advisory committee to the U.S. Agency for InternationalDevelopment (USAID) has scheduled next Thursday for the firstfederal review of a proposed overseas field test of a U.S.-maderecombinant animal vaccine.

But this proposal to evaluate a vaccine against rinderpest, afatal viral livestock disease in Africa, is seen as a test of thebroader regulatory hurdles facing U.S. developers ofrecombinant vaccines who are eyeing export markets, saidDavid Espeseth, deputy director of the veterinary biologicsdivision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The proposal must still be reviewed by the USDA, and theveterinary and public health authorities in Africa. USAID isinvolved because it funded research on the vaccine.

New federal regulations on vaccine exports were adoptedfollowing a 1986 field test in Argentina of a recombinant rabiesvaccine developed by Philadelphia's Wistar Institute.

In the current proposal, researchers at the University ofCalifornia, Davis, want to inoculate cattle in Egypt or Kenyawith a rinderpest vaccine, consisting of live vaccinia virusengineered to contain two genes from virus, said Leslie Jones ofthe Davis team. The vaccine is considered an improvement on anon-recombinant vaccine that requires refrigerated storage.The new vaccine has not yet attracted commercial interestbecause most African countries cannot afford to pay for it, hesaid. -- Carol Ezzell

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