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New HIV browser gives researchers access to valuable data from vaccine trials
Date:5/29/2008

SANTA CRUZ, CA--A new HIV data browser developed by the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the nonprofit organization Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases (GSID) will give researchers access to a wealth of data collected during clinical trials of an AIDS vaccine. Although the vaccine did not succeed in preventing infections, the clinical trial generated a huge amount of valuable data for researchers studying how the virus evolves and causes new infections.

Modeled on the UCSC Genome Browser, the GSID HIV Data Browser is the brainchild of Phillip Berman, professor and chair of biomolecular engineering in UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering. Berman helped oversee the clinical trials, which ended in 2003, when he was senior vice president for research and development at VaxGen, the company that developed the vaccine and conducted Phase III clinical trials in North America, Europe, and Thailand.

"After the trials concluded, I spent a couple of years trying to think what was the most important thing I could do for HIV research," Berman said. "I concluded it was using new technology to preserve the data from these clinical trials and present it in a form useful to the scientific community."

In 2004, Berman cofounded GSID, based in South San Francisco and dedicated to combining knowledge and expertise from the biotechnology industry and the public health sector to address infectious disease problems in the developing world. He joined the UCSC faculty in 2006.

"Despite the fact that the vaccine trial didn't work, a huge amount of useful information was obtained," Berman said. The "North American" trial included about 60 different clinical sites in North America and one site in the Netherlands. Of particular value to researchers are the genetic sequences of the viruses that infected participants during the trial.

"The trial represented the only up-to-date broad survey of virus sequences from new infections tha
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Contact: Tim Stephens
stephens@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
Source:Eurekalert

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