Novel HIV vaccine candidate induces immune responses in humans, monkeys

Leslie Hanson
July 9, 2018

"These results represent an important milestone", said Dan Barouch, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study, according to the BBC.

Over the past 30 years, only four vaccines have been good enough to get into large scale human trials. In the phase one clinical trial, researchers focused on HIV-1. With this positive result, the experts involved in the experiment are now moving to the next phase of human trials involving 2,600 women in southern Africa who are at risk of contracting HIV.

A key hurdle to HIV vaccine development has been the lack of direct comparability between clinical trials and preclinical studies.

An HIV vaccine under development by scientists has passed through to the next phase, creating hope for a future after more than 40 years of research and development. Despite unprecedented advances in HIV treatment and prophylaxis, the number of people living with HIV infection continues to increase worldwide. Through this study, the researchers have found a new vaccine that seems to be appropriate and safe and induces an immune in human beings as well as the rhesus monkeys.

Now, scientists are making significant strides toward an alternative solution: HIV vaccines.

The vaccine was tested on 393 people from 12 clinics around the world, and it showed that it can produce a positive immune system response.

Over 37 million people live with HIV or AIDS around the world.

While advancements in treatment have made exponential strides since the disease was first identified in the early 1980s, a vaccine has yet to be proven effective. They also tried the drug on 72 laboratory monkeys and proceeded to infect them with six injections of HIV like viruses.

The same vaccine was also tested on rhesus monkeys and proved to be partially effective, protecting 67 percent of the test subjects from simian-human immunodeficiency virus, a virus similar to HIV.

To test the vaccine, the team gathered nearly 400 adults with HIV aged between 18 to 50 from 12 clinics in southern and eastern Africa, Thailand and the 2015.

The experimental regimens tested in this study are based on 'mosaic' vaccines that take pieces of different HIV viruses and combine them to elicit immune responses against a wide variety of HIV strains. The participants were randomly assigned one of seven combinations of a vaccine, while one group was given a placebo. All vaccine regimens were well-tolerated and induced robust immune responses in the participants. Over the course of the 48-week trial, each participant received 4 vaccinations, all of which "produced an anti-HIV immune system response and were found to be safe".

"We re-ran the same assays in humans as monkeys to say "this is what protected monkeys, let's see if we can generate that response in humans" and used the APPROACH data to see whether we achieved those goals". "We don't know whether protection in monkeys means there will be protection in humans".

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