Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

HIV Vaccine Inspires Hope After 'Promising' Results in Human Trials

HIV Vaccine Inspires Hope After 'Promising' Results in Human Trials

Dr. Dan Barouch, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of the study, told Newsweek he is "cautiously optimistic" about the results, but stressed there are many obstacles to overcome before a vaccine is rolled out for humans. In a similarly designed study, Barouch and colleagues tested the same vaccine for its ability to protect rhesus monkeys challenged with an HIV-like virus from infection.

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.

Before human trials, the vaccine showed positive results in tests on 72 rhesus monkeys. In the phase one clinical trial, researchers focused on HIV-1.

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. "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. del Rio spoke with CNN about the vaccine.

The mixture of HIV strains in the "mosaic" vaccine is delivered using a nonreplicating common-cold virus. While the monkey test is encouraging, there need to be more tests to show that the drug could effectively fend off infections in humans.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that the vaccine evoked an anti-HIV immune system response in all 393 of the patients who received the treatment.

The vaccine could have the potential to protect people around the world from the threat of the virus.

A team of Harvard-led scientists is seeing positive results after testing a multi-strain HIV vaccine - dubbed the "mosaic" - in humans.

With 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 1.8 million new cases each year, a preventative vaccine is urgently needed to curb this worldwide pandemic.

"How do we make a vaccine that raises immune expenses relevant for all the HIV sequences?" said Barouch.

To test the vaccine, the team gathered nearly 400 adults with HIV aged between 18 to 50 from 12 clinics in southern and eastern Africa, Thailand and the 2015. The treatment was also able to protect monkeys from a virus very similar to HIV, although not HIV itself.

All vaccine combinations were found to be safe while also producing the anti-HIV response.

More than three decades after the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), scientists are still working to develop a preventative vaccine that could finally put an end to the epidemic for which there are almost two million new infections each year.

The human trials came from 12 clinics throughout the world, including South Africa, east Africa, the United States and Thailand.

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

Buchbinder said that she hoped "to validate our non-human primate model to see if it works for humans and if we see the same correlates of protection".

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