RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.- Good news to report on the war against AIDS came on two fronts Wednesday..

GeoVax Labs, which is based in Atlanta, said it has launched two AIDS vaccine clinical trials in humans earlier than scheduled. The trials are the third and fourth launched by GeoVax in a planned series of four.

Meanwhile, Morrisville-based Trimeris and its partner Roche announced plans to conduct additional research into use of their HIV drug Fuzeon.

Unlike Fuzeon, however, GeoVax is working on a vaccine to prevent AIDS, not treat it.

The vaccines, based on discoveries made at Emory University, are based on DNA and MVA (modified vaccinia ankara), which are being used to boost the vaccine’s effectiveness.

AIDS remains a deadly global killer. The United Nations AIDS report for 2006 reported 39.5 million people live with the HIV virus that triggers AIDS. Of those, 4.3 million contracted HIV last year, and the death toll from AIDS reached 2.9 million. Of those deaths, 18,000 occurred in North America.

In a statement, GeoVax reported that preliminary results in the first two trials demonstrated “excellent vaccine safety” and “excellent safety” respectively. More complete results will be released later this year, the company said.

Dr. Harriet Robinson at Emory University, the creative force behind the development of the vaccine technology, conducted the second trial. She reported “positive”responses in the majority of the participants who received the vaccine.

Based on the results, GeoVax advanced the third and fourth trials one month earlier than expected.

The third trial will involve fewer vaccine does, and the fourth will use only the MVA vaccine.

"Success in these trials could lead to a simpler vaccine regime making it easier to vaccinate people," said Robinson, who is., GeoVax’s co-founder and chair of its scientific advisory board.

The HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, is conducting the trials.