Monday, 19 November, 2018

HIV Vaccine Candidate Shows Promise in Early-Stage Trial

HIV testing HIV testing
Gustavo Carr | 10 July, 2018, 04:55

With 1.8 million new cases of human immunodeficiency virus every year, according to United Nations estimates, and nearly 37 million people living with HIV worldwide, the quest for a vaccine has been urgent - and extremely hard.

"The challenges in the development of an HIV vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses does not necessarily indicate that a vaccine will protect humans from HIV infection", he explains.

The researchers also noted several limitations, including the fact that that the relevance of vaccine protection in rhesus monkeys to clinical efficacy in humans remains unclear.

HIV-1 is the most common form of the virus, while HIV-2 is relatively uncommon and less infectious.

Approximately 37 million people worldwide are believed to be living with HIV or AIDS, with children accounting for two million of them.

The study was conducted in 2015-2016, and in July 2017, scientists told the world about the results.

"The main challenges facing the development of an HIV vaccine are scientific", said Linda-Gail Bekker, Ph.D.

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

In a separate study, the same vaccine offered complete protection from infection in two-thirds of 72 trial monkeys each given six injections with an HIV-like virus.

Some researchers explain that the vaccine is not a solution to the virus, which even if it induces an immune response to HIV, it can not prevent humans from getting the virus.

The participants, from the US, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and Thailand, received four vaccinations over the course of 48 weeks.

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For the latest study, published in The Lancet medical journal, Barouch and a team tested the candidate drug on 393 healthy, HIV-free adults aged 18 to 50 in east Africa, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.

Shown to be safe in humans, the candidate vaccine has now advanced to the next phase of the pre-approval trial process, and will be tested in 2,600 women in southern Africa to see whether it prevents HIV infection.

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

Only one vaccine has ever shown evidence of protecting against HIV. All the subjects of the study received what is known as "mosaic" vaccine. But this piece of research was created to test the vaccine's safety and effectiveness at the most basic level.

In the meantime, you can reduce your risk of contracting HIV by using a condom for all types of sex and by never sharing a needle if you're an injecting drug user.

The most effective version, given to 12 monkeys, managed to provide protection to 8 of them, while the other 4 eventually became infected.

During the initial stages of the drug testing, the researchers have found that the drug can trigger an immune response when administered to humans.

3d rendered HIV Virus in Blood Stream in color background.

Until now, all the positive results show that researchers can continue testing it.

Comparatively, the new HIV vaccine yielded better immunization rate and virtually no side effects.