In what they called a first step on the long road to a vaccine to prevent AIDS, health officials today announced they have begun soliciting 81 volunteers who will take part in the first human trials in this country of such an experimental vaccine.
Scientists said that the test will run from six months to a year and that the first subject could be vaccinated as early as next month.
The prototype vaccine, made by MicroGeneSys Inc., a drug and biological products firm in West Haven, Conn., is the first of several similar candidate agents to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials.
The tests, which will be conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., are designed solely to determine the safety of the potential vaccine and whether it raises any kind of immune response against the virus that causes AIDS, officials said.
The question of whether the preparation, derived from an inert protein from the virus which causes AIDS, will prevent people from getting the disease will be addressed in future studies, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIH unit sponsoring the trial.
Vaccines made from inactive proteins of the virus are safe for volunteers and it is impossible for such a preparation to give anyone AIDS, he added.
Fauci told a briefing that the first test will involve 81 healthy volunteers, including 75 homosexual men, who are not infected with the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Homosexual males are one of the groups at highest risk of contracting AIDS, and Fauci said they would be asked to volunteer because homosexuals eventually will be prime candidates for a vaccine if one is developed.
Vaccine approved, Page 8.