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Promising vaccine for HIV/AIDS being studied - RN Breakfast

09 July 2018

This is one of only five vaccines to have made it to this stage of testing in the 35 years since the HIV/AIDS epidemic started.

An experimental HIV vaccine showed promise of protecting healthy adults from contracting the deadly virus that killed millions of people in the past years.

Other researchers caution seeing this vaccine as the final solution to the virus. For their next step, they are launching a new vaccine trial that will include 2,600 women in southern Africa who are at risk of HIV infection.

A key hurdle to HIV vaccine development has been the lack of direct comparability between clinical trials and preclinical studies, the they said.

Meant to provide broad protection from the many strains of HIV that are prevalent worldwide, the "mosaic" vaccine contains a patchwork of genetic sequences found among various HIV strains. "We have to acknowledge that developing an HIV vaccine is an unprecedented challenge, and we will not know for sure whether this vaccine will protect humans", said study co-author Dr. Dan H. Barouch, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research. The main agenda was to target the immune responses generated by the diverse variety of HIV virus strains.

Now it is necessary to conduct further testing and determine whether it could protect from HIV person.

Scientists revealed Saturday that a candidate trial drug triggered an immune response in humans and shielded monkeys from infection.

Over 37 million people live with HIV or AIDS around the world.

Inventing a vaccine has proved an huge challenge for scientists, in part because there are so many strains of the virus, but also because HIV is adept at mutating to elude attack from our immune systems. Thus, an HIV vaccine is needed badly. The findings showed the vaccines induced robust and comparable immune responses in humans and monkeys and protected monkeys against acquisition of infection.

But despite advances in treatment for HIV, a cure or vaccine against the virus has never been found.

A parallel study in rhesus monkeys was also performed so that immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the various vaccines could be assessed and the optimal vaccine regimen could be realised to transfer to further clinical studies.

To do this, they recruited 393 healthy, HIV-uninfected adults (aged 18 to 50 years) between February and October 2015.

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.

"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.

Promising vaccine for HIV/AIDS being studied - RN Breakfast