Sunday, 23 September, 2018

AIDS vaccine offers hope in early trial

HIV testing HIV testing
Samantha Long | 09 July, 2018, 21:54

And although we now live in the era of PrEP - a highly effective, preventative drug - its high price tag makes it out of reach for numerous millions affected. While there is still more testing to be done, the treatment has the potential to prevent the infection of HIV. "This is only the 5th HIV vaccine concept that will be tested for efficacy in humans in the 35+ year history of the global HIV epidemic".

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

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. 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. The human trial, which involved 393 participants, produced an anti-HIV immune system response.

There has been a four decades long challenge to develop a vaccine against the deadly HIV virus that causes AIDS.

Indeed, the NHP 13-19 study of 72 rhesus monkeys assigned one of five vaccine regimens or placebo found that Ad26/Ad26 plus gp140 not only induced similar types of immune responses in humans, but 67% protection against acquisition of SHIV (two-sided Fisher's exact test P=0.007).

A vaccine has proven elusive as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) mutates easily and can hide away in cells, evading the immune system, only to re-emerge and spread years later. In a world with HIV and AIDS is home to around 37 million people.

In that same year, some 1.8 million people were newly infected while 1 million had already died because of HIV-related complications.

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The research published in the journal The Lancet shows that the experimental vaccine generated robust immune responses. "We eagerly await the results of the phase 2b efficacy trial".

The participants, from the US, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and Thailand, received four vaccinations over the course of 48 weeks.

While there have been HIV vaccines that have been approved for human trials in the past, only one was shown to provide protection against the disease, and it's rate of protection was considered too low to be implemented more widely.

In the APPROACH trial of almost 400 participants, researchers conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of several vaccine regimens in humans.

The new so-called mosaic vaccine is composed of proteins of various strains of this virus, so ideally should be universal protection. A safe and effective preventative vaccine is urgently needed to curb the HIV pandemic, the researchers said.

"We re-ran the same assays in humans as monkeys to say "this is what protected monkeys, let's see if we can generate that response in humans" and used the APPROACH data to see whether we achieved those goals".

"Despite all the advances we have had with HIV, we need a vaccine".

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