'Novel HIV vaccine found safe, effective'

Desiree Burns
July 9, 2018

The vaccine was also safe and well-tolerated, with mild-to-moderate pain at the injection site as the most common adverse event.

There is a drug - Prep - which is effective at preventing HIV infection. The HIV-1 vaccine proved safe and is now set to go to the next phase, which will be conducted in 2600 women in Southern Africa in a trial called imbokodo, a Zulu word for "rock". It's one of just five vaccines to ever make it that far in testing, but those that have weren't effective enough to go further.

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

The team created a mosaic-style vaccine by taking parts from different HIV viruses and combining them. 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 findings showed the vaccines induced robust and comparable immune responses in humans and monkeys and protected monkeys against acquisition of infection.

However, this "mosaic" HIV-1 vaccine has a multi-target approach.

Some researchers explain that the vaccine is not a solution to the virus, which even if it induces an immune response to HIV, it can not prevent humans from getting the virus.

Currently, there are no licensed prophylactic HIV-1 vaccines available, which the study authors reported as being potential related to the lack of direct compatibility between the preclinical studies and clinical trials. The combinations in the vaccine were safe to the human body and all produced an anti-HIV response.

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An HIV-1 vaccine human trial and a parallel trial with rhesus monkeys have shown promising results.

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

This study was funded by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention BV and the National Institutes of Health (OD024917, AI068618, AI078526, AI096040, AI124377, AI126603, AI128751, TR001102), the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and a cooperative agreement (W81XWH-07-2-0067) between the Henry M Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine and the US Department of Defense.

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.

He adds: "These results should be interpreted cautiously".

"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.

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