Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Researchers hopeful over experimental HIV vaccine

Researchers hopeful over experimental HIV vaccine

While these results are not flawless, they "represent an important milestone", Harvard professor, Dan Barouch, said.

Researchers have made an important breakthrough in work to develop a vaccine to protect against HIV.

This is 1 of only 5 experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have progressed to efficacy trials in humans over 35 years.

Susan Buchbinder, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, one of the co-chairs of the ongoing phase IIb efficacy trial for this vaccine, explained that the results of the non-human primate study were used to help select the most appropriate candidate for the vaccine in humans.

As a part of this study, the HIV vaccine was tested on three hundred ninety-three people. Despite unprecedented advances in HIV treatment and prophylaxis, the number of people living with HIV infection continues to increase worldwide.

Researchers, including those from Harvard Medical School in the United States, found that the "mosaic" vaccine, created by combining pieces of different HIV viruses, is well-tolerated and generated comparable and robust immune responses against HIV in healthy adults and rhesus monkeys. The resulting vaccine, the scientists hoped, would trigger an immune response against wide range of strains of the virus.

According to a study in The Lancet, a new HIV vaccine is now being tested and developed, showing promising results thus far.

Since it is a huge discovery so the researcher needs more testing to determine if the immune response produced can prevent HIV infection in people.

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It also protected some monkeys from a virus that is similar to HIV.

Most attempts have failed because the virus is able to rapidly mutate, making most vaccines ineffective.

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 U.S.in 2015.

The human participants, from Thailand, South Africa, Uganda, and Rwanda, ranged in age from 18 to 50 years.

"We're cautiously optimistic but we need to be cautious in our interpretation of the data", Barouch told Newsweek.

They were given four vaccinations over the course of 48 weeks. According to the study authors, the vaccine produced "robust (high levels of) immune responses" in the participants. A safe and effective preventative vaccine is urgently needed to curb the HIV pandemic.

"The road to the clinic is still unpredictable since the exact mode of action in humans is still unknown and the 67 percent protection in monkeys might not be replicable in humans", said George Williams Mbogo from the Burnet Institute in Australia, who wasn't involved in the study.

The Ad26/Ad26 plus gp140 vaccine candidate induced the greatest immune responses in humans and also provided the best protection in monkeys, resulting in complete protection against infection of SHIV, a virus similar to HIV that infects monkeys, in two-thirds of the vaccinated animals.

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