China's first clinical gene vaccine that fights SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is expected to be launched after clinical testing.
The news came after 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-based University of Pennsylvania, is the first of its kind in Guangdong Province.
"We will conduct research into vaccines against tropical epidemic diseases that greatly threaten human health," said Li Gang, vice-president of the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University.
According to Li, the center is currently working on research into vaccines against AIDS, SARS, dengue fever, Avian flu and other epidemic disease.
In terms of a genetic vaccine against SARS, Li said the research has already been conducted at the University of Pennsylvania.
Further clinical trials on the vaccine will be conducted after its approval by the State Food and Drug Administration, according to Li.
"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 has been developed from the gene of a disease source, such as animals," Gao said.
He said civet cats had not developed SARS after being vaccinated by the genetic vaccine.
"The genetic vaccine is able to deal with any variation of the SARS virus," Gao said.
He also revealed that China would soon begin testing a genetic vaccine against AIDS on humans.
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, and 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 sides will share the intellectual property rights of genetic vaccines.
He said investment in the cooperation projects totaled 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million), which has come from the Guangzhou municipal government, Sun Yat-sen University and the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University.
(China Daily August 15, 2006)