Harvard Researchers Make Headway On HIV Vaccine

An estimated 37 million people live with HIV  AIDS according to the World Health Organization

An estimated 37 million people live with HIV AIDS according to the World Health Organization

"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 added. "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.

There is a drug - Prep - which is effective at preventing HIV infection.

The aim of the study was to see whether the vaccine was safe, and whether people who received it still showed signs of the vaccine working after a year.

About 37 million people worldwide live with HIV or Aids, and there are an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year.

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

"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". It's one of only five experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have gotten this far during the 35 years of the HIV pandemic.

A vaccine against HIV has been a real challenge for scientists, because of this virus many strains.

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In humans, the vaccine was safe and produced antibody responses and T-cell responses, and in monkeys, the vaccine not only produced similar immune responses, but protected against a type of simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), reported Dan H. Barouch, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues. However, because the mosaic vaccine attacks multiple strains of the virus, doctors would be able to administer it on a much broader scale, and it could potentially be a powerful weapon against HIV if all goes well.

Human trials included 393 participants in 12 clinics all over the world. "This study demonstrates that the mosaic Ad26 prime, Ad26 plus gp140 boost HIV vaccine candidate induced robust immune responses in humans and monkeys with comparable magnitude, kinetics, phenotype, and durability and also provided 67 percent protection against viral challenge in monkeys".

While these results are not flawless, they "represent an important milestone", Harvard professor, Dan Barouch, said.

Mild side effects were common, and around 1% of people in the trial had more serious adverse reactions to the vaccine. These results lead the researchers to believe that it might also be effective against HIV.

Dr Michael Brady, medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said it was early days for the vaccine but the signs were "promising".

A second round of trials is now taking place on a group of 2,600 women in sub-Saharan Africa who are at risk of contracting HIV.

More than 80% of people who received this version also showed positive signs for 2 other measures of immune response. 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. This immune response could protect the humans from the infection.

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