A new experimental vaccine to fight off HIV-1 has sparked a new hope to protect those who are having HIV, one of the most widespread virus and the leading causes of death of many people globally.
"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. Moreover, the vaccine candidate protected against infection with an HIV-like virus in monkeys.
An accompanying editorial by George N. Pavlakis, MD, and Barbara K. Felber, PhD, both of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland, discussed this approach, stating that it "defines an additional path for exploring the development of an effective HIVvaccine".
With 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 1.8 million new cases each year, a preventative vaccine is urgently needed to curb this worldwide pandemic.
The study was conducted in 2015-2016, and in July 2017, scientists told the world about the results. Till date, this is the first out of five HIVvaccine concepts to have showed a positive response in nearly around 40 years of the HIV virus causing havoc among humans.
The vaccine containing "mosaic" HIV Env/Gag/Pol antigens was created from many HIV strains, delivered using a non-replicating common-cold virus (Ad26).
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.
The new vaccine proved to be protective in monkeys, and while antibodies against HIV were generated in humans, it is unclear whether the vaccine will protect against infection. The human trial participants came from 12 clinics in South Africa, east Africa, Thailand and the United States.
"Based on these data, the mosaic Ad26/Env HIV-1 vaccine has been advanced into a phase 2b clinical efficacy study to determine whether this vaccine will prevent HIV infection in humans in southern Africa", said Barouch.
While these results are not ideal, they "represent an important milestone", Harvard professor, Dan Barouch, said.
About nine years ago, another HIVvaccine, RV144, also showed positive results in initial experiments carried out on 16,000 volunteers in Thailand. We thank the International AIDSVaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the generous support of USAID and other donors; a full list of IAVI donors is available online.
Some of the volunteers reported some side effects but the researchers said they were tolerable.
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.
"Despite all the advances we have had with HIV, we need a vaccine". The mosaic is one of five vaccines to ever make it this far in the testing stages, but none of the previous vaccines were successful enough to make it to the next round of testing. "But the data is promising and we are happy to report the immune response".
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