Experimental HIV Vaccine Promising in Early Trial

Henrietta Strickland
July 9, 2018

Nevertheless, the promising results of the study mean researchers will next test the treatment on 2,600 women in southern Africa who are at risk of getting the illness - one of only five vaccines to make it to this stage of so-called efficacy trials.

More than three decades after the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), scientists are still working to develop a preventative vaccine that could finally put an end to the epidemic for which there are almost two million new infections each year.

"These results represent an important milestone".

In addition to being well-tolerated by all the test subjects and inducing an immune response against HIV in humans, the vaccine provided 67% protection against infection from the simian-human immunodeficiency virus in the rhesus monkeys.

"These results should be interpreted cautiously".

A new study has given the researchers a ray of light in the battle to safeguard people from the most widespread virus, HIV-1.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimated that there were about 36.7 million people who were living with HIV worldwide at the end of 2016. Thus, an HIV vaccine is needed badly.

In the 35 years of the HIV epidemic, only four HIV vaccine concepts have been tested in humans, and only one has provided evidence of protection.

The vaccine was developed by Janssen pharmaceuticals. To address these methodological issues, Barouch and colleagues evaluated the leading mosaic adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26)-based HIV-1 vaccine candidates in parallel clinical and pre-clinical studies to identify the optimal HIV vaccine regimen to advance into clinical efficacy trials. The volunteers were also injected with the common-cold virus to boost their immune system once at the start of the trial and again 12 weeks later into the study.

Unlike past efforts, which only focused on specific HIV strains, this vaccine is a "mosaic" that includes pieces of multiple strains in a bid to create a more universal drug. According to the study authors, the vaccine produced "robust (high levels of) immune responses" in the participants. Five participants reported at least one vaccine-related grade 3 adverse event such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, postural dizziness, and back pain. This invention was a real challenge for scientists, because of this virus many strains.

Buchbinder said that she hoped "to validate our non-human primate model to see if it works for humans and if we see the same correlates of protection".

And although we now live in the era of PrEP - a highly effective, preventative drug - its high price tag makes it out of reach for numerous millions affected.

But this new vaccine takes a different approach.

Dr Brady added that in the meantime there were already tools that were effective for preventing the disease from spreading, such as contraception and treatments for HIV-positive people that prevent them from passing on the virus.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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