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NIAID initiates trial of experimental avian flu vaccine

Fast-track recruitment has begun for a trial to investigate the safety of a vaccine against H5N1 avian influenza, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today.

Sites in Rochester, NY, Baltimore and Los Angeles will enroll a total of 450 healthy adults. The clinical sites are part of the NIAID-sponsored Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEU).

"While there have been relatively few cases worldwide of H5N1 avian influenza infection in humans, the public health community is concerned that the virus will develop the capability of efficiently spreading from human to human and thus create a risk for a worldwide pandemic," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

"NIAID has supported research on H5N1, the strain responsible for this deadly form of avian influenza, since 1997 when the first cases in humans were reported. The initiation of this vaccine trial marks a key advance in our efforts to prepare to respond to an avian flu pandemic," adds Dr. Fauci.

Sanofi pasteur, Swiftwater, PA, manufactured the trial vaccine, which is an inactivated vaccine made from an H5N1 virus isolated in Southeast Asia in 2004. Sanofi pasteur, formerly Aventis Pasteur, was awarded a contract by NIAID to manufacture the H5N1 vaccine in May 2004.

This Phase I trial will test the vaccine's safety and ability to generate an immune response in 450 healthy adults aged 18 to 64. If the vaccine is shown to be safe in adults, there are plans to test it in other populations, such as the elderly and children.

H5N1 avian influenza leads to severe disease in both birds and humans. Between January 2004 and March 11, 2005, there were 69 confirmed cases of and 46 deaths from H5N1 infection in humans reported to the World Health Organization. To date, there has been a small number of cases where human-to-human transmission of the virus may have occurred. However, public
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Contact: Anne A. Oplinger
aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
23-Mar-2005


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