New HIV vaccine tested on humans

Are we on the road to an HIV vaccine?Hide Caption

In the near four decades since the start of the Aids crisis, this is only the fifth experimental vaccine that has progressed to a stage where it can be tested on humans. While the monkey test is encouraging, there need to be more tests to show that the drug could effectively fend off infections in humans.

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.

The mosaic vaccine HIV-1 vaccine produced comparable immune responses in both humans and rhesus monkeys, a phase I/IIa trial found.

However, there's a strong incentive for this vaccine to succeed.

The fight against HIV continues, and the HIV vaccine developed by researchers at Harvard brings hope to medical professionals and people all over the world. Should it prove effective, doctors could administer vaccine on a broad scale where past vaccines would have only worked for small populations even if they'd worked well.

To "boost" the level of the body's immune response, volunteers were given two additional vaccinations at week 24 and 48 using various combinations of Ad26.Mos.HIV or a different vaccine component called Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) with or without two different doses of clade C HIV gp140 envelope protein containing an aluminium adjuvant. Till date, this is the first out of five HIV vaccine concepts to have showed a positive response in nearly around 40 years of the HIV virus causing havoc among humans.

However, this "mosaic" HIV-1 vaccine has a multi-target approach. The virus is able to mutate to avoid the attack of the human immune system, so we can't develop immunity to it.

BBC News reported on the study Saturday, noting that there are now over 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the globe, and the number increases by 1.8 million every year. The results no more remain the same in humans.

Barouch is the recent director of the Centre for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Ishrael Deaconess Medical Center which is located in the Boston. "Obviously, the search for an HIV vaccine is very elusive", said Dr. Carlos del Rio, who was not involved with the study but has done similar research as the co-principal investigator of the Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit.

Over the past 35 years, only one other vaccine has provided evidence of protection in an efficacy trial - the RV144 vaccine, which was trailed in Thailand and lowered the rate of human infection by 31 percent.

With that said, it doesn't necessarily mean that the patients are incapable of contracting HIV - and it would be unethical to try to infect them with the virus to find out. The human trial participants came from 12 clinics in South Africa, east Africa, Thailand and the United States. It's unclear whether it would provide protection in humans.

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