Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Scientists cautiously optimistic about HIV vaccine candidate

HIV  Aids screening test during a past World HIV vaccine delivers promising results in human tests
Anna Jefferson | 09 July, 2018, 21:56

Dr. Dan H. Barouch, a lead researcher on the study and a professor at Harvard Medical School, said he was "pleased" with the results but that they should still be treated with caution.

Researchers have made an important breakthrough in work to develop a vaccine to protect against HIV.

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

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

"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", said Barouch.

Now published its key data on early stages, explained in the company Johnson & Johnson, whose daughter Janssen pharmaceuticals has developed a vaccine.

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. While the monkey test is encouraging, there need to be more tests to show that the drug could effectively fend off infections in humans.

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"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.

For now, people infected with HIV rely on lifelong virus-suppressing anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to stay healthy. Thousands of people are still contracting HIV every year in the USA - an estimated 38,500 people became infected with the virus in 2015 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest statistics.

For the prime vaccine, used to stimulate an initial immune response, participants were injected with Ad26.Mos.HIV, which uses a strain of the common-cold virus. They recruited 393 HIV-uninfected adults age 18 to 50 from the United States, east Africa, South Africa, and Thailand between February 2015 and October 2015. The adults came from clinics across East Africa, South Africa, the USA and Thailand.

The Ad26/Ad26 plus gp140 vaccine candidate induced the greatest immune responses in humans and also provided the best protection in monkeys - resulting in complete protection against SHIV infection in two-thirds of the vaccinated animals after six challenges.

All of the vaccine combinations produced an anti-HIV immune system response and were found to be safe.

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.

A new HIV vaccine is inspiring "cautious" hope in scientists after it passed human trials with "promising" results. It's unclear whether it would provide protection in humans.

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