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MP tests Aids vaccine
Dr Evan Harris
Dr Harris volunteered to be be vaccinated
A Liberal Democrat MP has become the first person to be injected with a new prototype Aids vaccine as part of a clinical trial.

The Oxfordshire MP, Dr Evan Harris, volunteered to be injected with the vaccine as part of a small UK-based test of the drug's safety.


I am confident the vaccine is safe

Evan Harris MP

The experimental vaccine is one of the most promising being developed at the moment. If the drug is found to be safe it will be tested in Kenya next year.

Dr Harris, who worked with HIV patients when he was a junior doctor, hopes his involvement will help publicise the trial.

"I am pleased to be able to be involved in such an important trial," he said.

"I am taking part in this trial as I believe that finding an effective vaccine is our best hope to control this devastating disease."

Devastating

Kenyan woman
The vaccine was developed after Kenyan prostitutes showed signs of immunity to HIV

The trial is being conducted by the Human Immunology Unit of the Medical Research Council.

It was conceived after doctors found that some prostitutes in Kenya never get HIV - the virus that can lead to Aids.

The researchers think this is because some people's immune systems successfully destroy the virus using cells called T-cells.

The new vaccine is designed to produce the same immune response thus halting the spread of HIV.

Dr Harris received a jab of the new vaccine on Thursday as the first phase of the trials start in his Oxford West constituency.

"I am confident the vaccine is safe and that it will prime the immune system to be able to protect against HIV infections," he said.

He is one of a group of volunteers with little or no risk of contracting HIV, who will receive the vaccine in order for scientists to check its safety and whether it can produce an immune response.

The vaccine is not expected to be ready for around 10 years and will cost millions of pounds to develop.

Even then it will only work against the strain of HIV that's found in Africa.

But doctors hope the technique can be adapted to produce vaccines for the European strain of the virus.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Feargus Walsh
"The idea for the vaccine came from Kenya"
Dr Evan Harris MP
"A vaccine is the only chance"
Director Medical Research Council, Andrew McMichael
"It may take three to five years to find out if it really works"
Derek Bodell, National Aids Trust
"It could take up to 10 years to find an effective vaccine"
See also:

31 Aug 00 | Health
31 Aug 00 | UK Politics
29 Aug 00 | Africa
25 Aug 00 | Africa
22 Aug 00 | South Asia
04 Nov 99 | Aids
02 Jul 99 | Aids
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