Saturday, February 09, 2008

Avian Influenza vaccine trials at NIH seek volunteers, seem to make progress

The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD (Metro) is running a number of studies to test the safety and efficacy of vaccines for H5N1 avian influenza (“bird flu”), both as a preventative and as a source of antibody treatment.

Page 33 of The City Paper, Feb. 8, 2008 has a print ad. The web reference is here. Some studies are recruiting, and some are complete.

It is not clear yet how successful completed studies were and how quickly vaccines and antibody treatments could be manufactured were H5N1 to start spreading quickly from human to human. In 1976 there were emergency vaccinations for "Swine flu" (biologically much more conventional) with a small number of possibly related cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome from a possible vaccine reacion.

The ad says that participants will be compensated, must be 18-59. HIV negative (and negative for Hepatitis B and C) and must be willing to donate plasma by plasmapheresis, This is essentially like an extended “blood donation” and used to be common in blood banks when some people sold “plasma.” In fact, before AIDS and HIV appeared in the early 1980s, gay men were sought to volunteer for this procedure for the Hepatitis B vaccine, at the time a novelty.

It is not clear whether HIV negative men who have been sexually active with other men at various periods in the past would be accepted, since they are still apparently not accepted for blood donations. See this posting from Aug. 30 on my GLBT blog:

I was screened for a trial for a GP160 vaccine for HIV in 1988. I went through the medical screening at NIH, enough to find antibodies to histoplasmosis and a calcified lymph node in the lung from it. I would have been accepted, but declined because they needed too much repeated time during the workday when I had a regular job. The vaccine was ultimately found to be ineffective.

I was a patient at NIH after my 1961 William and Mary expulsion, which I describe here, look for Nov. 28 2006

There was an earlier posting on influenza Feb. 2 on this blog.

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