China's first clinical gene vaccine that fights SARS is expected to be launched after further clinical testing. The news came at the opening of a genetic vaccine research center last week in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.
The center, a cooperative project between Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University and the US University of Pennsylvania, is the first of its kind in Guangdong.
"We'll conduct research into vaccines against tropical epidemic diseases that greatly threaten human health," said Li Gang, vice president of the No.3 Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University.
According to Li, the center is currently working on research into vaccines against SARS, AIDS, dengue fever, avian flu and other epidemic diseases.
In terms of a genetic vaccine against SARS, Li said research had already been conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, and further clinical trials of the vaccine would be conducted after its approval by the State Food and Drug Administration.
"After clinical testing, China will see its first genetic vaccine against SARS," Li said in an interview with China Daily yesterday.
The SARS vaccine has been tested on animals and proved a success, according to Gao Guangping, vice director of the research center. "The genetic vaccine is totally different from other vaccines; it's been developed from the gene of a disease source such as animals," Gao explained.
He said civet cats had not developed SARS after having the vaccine. "The genetic vaccine is able to deal with any variation of the SARS virus," Gao added. He also revealed that China would soon begin testing on people a genetic vaccine against AIDS.
According to Gao, cooperation on vaccine research at the center has been approved by the US Department of Defense, the State Department and the Department of Commerce as well as China's Ministry of Education.
Sun Yat-sen University signed an agreement with the University of Pennsylvania on the vaccine research last September. According to the agreement both universities will share the intellectual property rights of genetic vaccines.
Gao said investment in cooperation projects totaled 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million), which had come from the Guangzhou municipal government, Sun Yat-sen University and the No.3 Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University.
(China Daily August 15, 2006)