Almost two years of testing showed that a genetically engineered AIDS vaccine is safe in humans, the vaccine’s maker, MicroGeneSys, Inc., of West Haven, Conn., said in June. The continuing trial involved more than 120 gay and bisexual men who tested negative for infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when the tests were begun in 1987. Aside from the mild side effects normally seen with vaccines, the AIDS vaccine, which contains proteins found on the surface of HIV, produced no toxic effects. The initial testing was to determine whether the vaccine was safe; trials to determine whether the vaccine can actually prevent AIDS were begun shortly after the vaccine’s safety was assured.
In a separate development, Jonas Salk of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in San Diego announced at the Fifth International Conference on AIDS in Montreal in June that three chimpanzees injected with a potential AIDS vaccine developed strong immune responses. Instead of HIV surface proteins, Salk’s preparation uses whole killed viruses, an approach he followed in developing his famous polio vaccine. The potential AIDS vaccine caused no adverse effects when tested for safety in 19 human volunteers.