Hope in Africa as HIV vaccine shows promising results

09 July, 2018, 21:53 | Author: Kara Nash
  • An estimated 37 million people live with HIV  AIDS according to the World Health Organization

"These results represent an important milestone", said lead researcher Dan Barouch. The ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses does not necessarily mean the vaccine will protect humans from HIV infection.

This is one of only five experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have progressed to efficacy trials in humans in the 35 years of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

An experimental HIV vaccine showed promise of protecting healthy adults from contracting the deadly virus that killed millions of people in the past years. Primary endpoints of the study included safety and tolerability of the vaccine regimens as well as immunogenicity.

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.

Researchers conducted 2 studies and observed that mosaic Ad26-based HIV vaccine regimens were both well-tolerated and induced a robust immune response against HIV in healthy adults and rhesus monkeys.

The new so-called mosaic vaccine is composed of proteins of various strains of this virus, so ideally should be universal protection.

In total, it's approximated that almost 80 million people have been infected since the HIV virus was first detected in the early 1980s - and 35 million have died.

In addition to showing successful immune responses in the human patients, the vaccine was also shown to fend off a similarly risky immunodeficiency virus in 67% of monkeys who received the treatment.

According to UNAIDS, the United Nations program on HIV and AIDS, an estimated 1.8 million people around the world become infected with the virus every year, with about 5,000 new cases every day. The virus is also able to mutate, thus eluding attack from the human immune system.

"How do we make a vaccine that raises immune expenses relevant for all the HIV sequences?" said Barouch.

The scientists carried out a parallel study where they gave rhesus monkeys the vaccine to check for the analysis to protect monkeys from getting simian-human immunodeficiency virus - a virus which is similar to HIV that infects monkeys.

The participants, from the US, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and Thailand, received four vaccinations over the course of 48 weeks. Scientists must await the results of this trial find out whether the vaccine cannot only provoke an immune response, but actively protect against HIV.

The drug Prep, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is effective at preventing HIV infection, but, unlike a vaccine, it needs to be taken regularly, even daily, to prevent the virus from taking hold.

While the researchers say these results are a step in the right direction, a new round of testing must occur to prove the drug is effective in staving off the disease in humans.

"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.



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