NIAID launches PhI trial of investigational West Nile virus vaccine

The mosquito-borne West Nile virus has infected more than 41,000 people and killed more than 1,700 people in the U.S. since 1999. But while there is an effective veterinary vaccine for the virus, there is no commercially available human vaccine. The National Institutes of Health's NIAID is launching a Phase I trial of a human vaccine at Duke University.

"Since first appearing in the United States in 1999, West Nile Virus has emerged as an important health threat in this country," said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci in a statement. "NIAID is committed to research efforts to advance a preventive vaccine that could protect people against West Nile Virus infection."

The study will involve 50 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 50 years. Enrollment is expected to be completed by December. The trial will test a low dose as well as a higher dose of the vaccine, dubbed HydroVax-001, against placebo. Forty participants will receive a dose of the candidate while 10 will receive placebo. It was developed at Oregon Health & Science University.

The candidate uses the HydroVax platform, a hydrogen peroxide-based process that inactivates the West Nile virus, while maintaining surface structures that trigger an immune response, the NIH said in the statement. It is the first system to show that hydrogen peroxide can be used for this purpose, according to researchers.

Because the virus is inactivated, the vaccine can be used in diverse populations, including the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, if approved.

- here's the release