Harvard Researchers’ HIV Vaccine Shows Promising Results In Human Trials

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

As researchers worldwide work toward creating a vaccine for HIV, new study results indicate that an experimental mosaic HIV vaccine may have the potential to protect against a wide-range of global HIV strains.

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 U.S.in 2015.

Despite the fact that treatment of HIV with each passing year it becomes more effective still vaccine against this virus and the therapy was only in the dreams of doctors and patients.

Prior to this study, the only HIV vaccine to be tested in humans and show some positive effect was tested in Thailand in 2009.

The vaccine was tested on 393 people from 12 clinics around the world, and it showed that it can produce a positive immune system response.

The experimental regimens tested in this study are based on 'mosaic' vaccines that take pieces of different HIV viruses and combine them to elicit immune responses against a wide variety of HIV strains.

"Implementation of even a moderately effective HIV vaccine together with the existing HIV prevention and treatment strategies is expected to contribute greatly to the evolving HIV/AIDS response", the editorial continued. The virus is also able to mutate, thus eluding attack from the human immune system.

While the researchers say these results are a step in the right direction, a new round of testing must occur to prove the drug is effective in staving off the disease in humans.

"The main challenges facing the development of an HIV vaccine are scientific", said Linda-Gail Bekker, Ph.D.

Sixty-seven rhesus monkeys were also given the vaccine, and the scientists found that it protected the monkeys against simian-human immunodeficiency virus. "Obviously, the search for an HIV vaccine is very elusive". Each year, around 2 million people are diagnosed with HIV. Despite all the advances we have had with HIV, we need a vaccine.

In the meantime, the vaccine will be tested on women in South Africa, who are most at risk of contracting the virus. New vaccine concepts and vectors are in development and can progress to efficacy trials, which is an important process since development of an AIDS vaccine remains urgent.

Study leader Dan Barouch, a Harvard Medical School professor said that the results till now are "promising" but it is best to be "cautious".

"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. This immune response could protect the humans from the infection.

The research was funded by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention, the US National Institutes of Health, the Ragon Institute, the Henry M Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, the US Department of Defense, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

During the initial stages of the drug testing, the researchers have found that the drug can trigger an immune response when administered to humans. "Healthy" means that they were not infected by HIV. "But the data is promising and we are happy to report the immune response".

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