According to Chinese authorities, preliminary tests of its first AIDS vaccine indicate it could protect people against the HIV virus.
The State Food and Drug Administration says of the 49 healthy men and women, aged 18-50 who took part in a first phase trial, none experienced severe adverse reactions.
The participants were divided into eight groups and were sampled 5 to 10 times during the 180-day period of the trial after taking both low and high dosages.
The researchers say they showed a reasonably positive immune response towards the virus, and the higher the dosage, the better their reaction.
The group also received DNA fragments of HIV-1 and according to the research team, some developed immunity to HIV-1 two weeks after being vaccinated; this they believe indicates that the vaccine stimulates the immune system.
The researchers are still analysing the trial results before making a decision on whether further tests should be carried out.
Team leader Kong Wei from Jilin University, says although the initial results were ‘truly inspiring’ it is still too early to claim success.
The Ministry of Science and Technology says the first phase trial began in March last year in southwestern China’s Guangxi region, and another 800 volunteers, including those from high-risk groups, will be needed for the second and third phase of the trials.
China says it could take years before the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness is guaranteed.
China’s research into an AIDS vaccine began in 2003 and already over 100 million yuan has been invested into projects for the treatment and prevention of the disease.
Official estimates suggest China has 650,000 people who are infected with HIV, of which 75,000 have AIDS.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD