Nov 7, 2003 (CIDRAP News) – The British biotechnology company Acambis announced yesterday that it has launched the first clinical trial of its vaccine for West Nile virus, called ChimeriVax-West Nile.
The phase 1 trial will involve 60 adult volunteers in Lenexa, Kan., the company said in a news release. The volunteers will receive one of three doses of the West Nile vaccine or a licensed yellow fever vaccine that is being used as a control.
Investigators will document any adverse reactions to the vaccine and will measure antibody levels and T-cell responses to assess its immunogenicity, the company said.
Development of the vaccine has been financed in part by a $3 million grant awarded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in August 2000. "Acambis began work on this project within months of the virus being diagnosed in the US and we are pleased to be the first company to start human clinical trials to evaluate a vaccine against West Nile," said Dr. John Brown, Acambis chief executive officer.
The company said it previously conducted a series of successful preclinical studies of the vaccine.
Last August the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH, reported promising results in animal trials of another West Nile vaccine. The agency said John Hopkins University would conduct clinical trials of that vaccine, which involves a genetically engineered hybrid of dengue type 4 virus and West Nile virus.
Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 8,219 cases of West Nile infection, with 182 deaths, have been reported in the United States this year. The total included 502 cases reported in the week of Oct 30 through Nov 5.
CDC's West Nile update in Nov 7 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report