RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – AlphaVax is expanding its range of targets for vaccines beyond the AIDS virus.

Having received the approval of the Food and Drug Administration, AlphaVax is preparing to launch clinical trials of vaccines targeting influenza and cytomegalovirus, or CMV.

In targeting these two areas, AlphaVax is taking on global threats, especially given the possibility of an avian flu pandemic and the widespread presence of CMV.

In the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control, between 50-80 percent of adults 40 and over are infected by CMV. It also is the most common virus transmitted to unborn babies. CMV causes 8,000 permanent disabilities per year. It is a global threat, especially in developing countries. The virus is part of the herpesvirus family that includes herpes viruses and viruses that cause chicken pox and infectious mononucleosis.

"These trials will expand on our previous clinical experience with an HIV vaccine to two additional indications, influenza and CMV," said Jeff Chulay, who is chief medical officer at AlphaVax. "Advancing three vaccines for three different indications into the clinic validates the original design of our platform technology, which can be used against many different diseases."

AlphaVax has proprietary technology for producing vaccines based on modified alphaviruses. Alphaviruses are defined by the CED as RNA-containing viruses that are often found in mosquito-transmitted diseases.

AlphaVax produces alphavaccines, and the one targeting CMV will be tested on healthy volunteers in February.

The influenza vaccines tests will be launched in April. Future tests will target potential pandemic strains of influenza.

Grants from the federal government are paying part of the trials’ costs.