Archive for May 19th, 2009

It’s not going awaa-ay….

19 May, 2009

Fro ProMED Mail today:

To summarize the current situation, as of 6:00 AM GMT on 18 May 2009 there have been a total of 8829 cases and 74 deaths of influenza A (H1N1) infection officially reported to WHO coming from 40 countries, up from 8480 confirmed cases and 72 deaths from 39 countries yesterday (17 May 2009). Chile is the new country confirming cases through the WHO summary report. As of 18:00 GMT-4, there have been a total of 9372 cases and 79 deaths reported worldwide, with 14 countries in the Americas reporting cases. According to newswires, there has been the 1st confirmed case in Greece with a history of travel to the USA prior to onset. Newswires continue to demonstrate significant increases in confirmed cases in Japan during the past 24 hours.The USA has officially reported 5123 laboratory confirmed cases coming from 48 states (compared with 4714 cases from 47 states on 15 May 2009), and 5 deaths (all in individuals with pre-existing illnesses). Canada has reported 496 cases from 10 provinces with 1 death in an individual with pre-existing illness, unchanged from the 496 cases and one death reported from 10 provinces/territories on 15 May 2009.

For a map of reported confirmed cases, worldwide, as of 06:00 GMT 18 May 2009, see here” 
– Mod.MPP

So it is NOT going away…and has a case fatality rate, from these numbers, of 0.84%.  This is significantly higher than the ~0.2% quoted for annual flu epidemics – which, if they kill ~400 000 people per annum, must infect ~200 million people.

Meaning if this flu infects the same number of people, >1.6 million people may die, over and ABOVE the normal toll.

HIV Vaccine Day

19 May, 2009

And as one involved (or formerly involved, thanks to the effective demise of our funding agency…) in HIV vaccine research, it is criminal that I missed this yesterday – but the UCT Monday paper caught it, so let’s see what they said:

First human trial of UCT’s HIV vaccine
18 May 2009

 World AIDS Vaccine Day, May 18, marks the occasion in 1997 when US President Bill Clinton challenged researchers to come up with an AIDS vaccine within the following decade, stating that such a vaccine was the only way to eliminate the threat of AIDS. …

Researchers from UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) have announced that their two new preventative HIV vaccines have reached the first stage of human clinical trials, a first for Africa.

This trial, called SAAVI 102/HVTN 073, is also a milestone for South Africa. The country is one of the few developing nations to have developed an HIV vaccine and progressed it into human clinical trials.

Professor Anna-Lise Williamson is leader of the team at the IIDMM.

The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, based at the IIDMM, is one of three sites in the world that will conduct the trials. The others sites are in Johannesburg and Boston in the US.

These vaccines are a culmination of eight years of research by scientists at the IIDMM, UCT, and collaborators from the US National Institutes of Health and the Vaccine Research Centre. Their development and testing has been underpinned by funding from the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

…The initial human trial is being conducted jointly with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the NIAID, part of the US National Institutes of Health.

There is a wealth of science behind the vaccines, of course: I am listing a few of the papers giving the historical background to the DNA and the modified vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA, a smallpox vaccine strain) that are about to be used in the trial, below.

Broad, high-magnitude and multifunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses elicited by a DNA and modified vaccinia Ankara vaccine containing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 subtype C genes in baboons.  Burgers WA, Chege GK, Müller TL, van Harmelen JH, Khoury G, Shephard EG, Gray CM, Williamson C, Williamson AL.  J Gen Virol. 2009 Feb;90(Pt 2):468-80.

A multigene HIV type 1 subtype C modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine efficiently boosts immune responses to a DNA vaccine in mice.  Shephard E, Burgers WA, Van Harmelen JH, Monroe JE, Greenhalgh T, Williamson C, Williamson AL.  AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2008 Feb;24(2):207-17.

Construction, characterization, and immunogenicity of a multigene modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine based on HIV type 1 subtype C.  Burgers WA, Shephard E, Monroe JE, Greenhalgh T, Binder A, Hurter E, Van Harmelen JH, Williamson C, Williamson AL.  AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2008 Feb;24(2):195-206.

Design and preclinical evaluation of a multigene human immunodeficiency virus type 1 subtype C DNA vaccine for clinical trial.  Burgers WA, van Harmelen JH, Shephard E, Adams C, Mgwebi T, Bourn W, Hanke T, Williamson AL, Williamson C.  J Gen Virol. 2006 Feb;87(Pt 2):399-410.

Construction and characterisation of a candidate HIV-1 subtype C DNA vaccine for South Africa.  van Harmelen JH, Shephard E, Thomas R, Hanke T, Williamson AL, Williamson C.  Vaccine. 2003 Oct 1;21(27-30):4380-9.

Characterization and selection of HIV-1 subtype C isolates for use in vaccine development.  Williamson C, Morris L, Maughan MF, Ping LH, Dryga SA, Thomas R, Reap EA, Cilliers T, van Harmelen J, Pascual A, Ramjee G, Gray G, Johnston R, Karim SA, Swanstrom R.  AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2003 Feb;19(2):133-44.

The development of HIV-1 subtype C vaccines for Southern Africa.  Williamson AL.  IUBMB Life. 2002 Apr-May;53(4-5):207-8. Review.