Kill a Killer
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a perfect example of how the AIDS Institute encourages collaboration,"
Ferbas observes. Dr. Yvonne Bryson of pediatrics later joined the
scientific team to launch a trial for children.
and her colleagues must triumph over a number of daunting scientific
challenges before bringing their vaccine to a waiting public. These
include proving that the dead virus can't grow, even fractionally,
and pinpointing the vaccine's proper dosage, scheduling and span
of effectiveness. First, however, they must show that it works in
humans, something that animal studies can't predict.
one knows if we can prevent HIV infection completely," Ferbas says.
"Most vaccines - like the immunization we receive against childhood
diseases - rely on a series of injections to introduce a small level
of infection, then rapidly clear the virus from our immune systems.
In reality, we'll probably need a combination of approaches to produce
people already living with HIV, we hope the vaccine will enhance
the effectiveness of AIDS medications and wean patients off these
costly drugs and their side effects," she adds. "We'll need to learn
how many injections to give people, the dosage of each shot, their
timing and how long their effect will last."
also must surmount more practical obstacles. "These trials are expensive,"
she says bluntly. "To be successful, we'll need private support
as well as research grants."
passion to create a vaccine has increased exponentially since her
college days. Every day, doctors diagnose 16,000 new HIV infections.
Ninety percent of these cases occur in the developing world, which
can't afford drugs to stop HIV from escalating to full-blown AIDS.
A staggering 16 million adults and children have died of AIDS, and
more than twice that number live with HIV. AIDS has become the world's
No. 1 infectious - and preventable - killer. Los Angeles remains
the second-largest epicenter for the epidemic.
that we're putting this clinical trial together, I don't sleep at
night," Ferbas admits. "We have to find an HIV vaccine and do it
soon. We can't afford not to."
Schmidt is a public information officer in the School of Medicine.