Clinical trials of an HIV vaccine that is supposed to protect the person from different strains have shown promising results.
Based on the results from phase 1 and phase 2a clinical trials that involved almost 400 healthy adults in Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and the United States, a phase 2b trial has been initiated in southern Africa to determine the safety and efficacy of the HIV-1 vaccine candidate in 2,600 women at risk for acquiring HIV. Till date, this is the first out of five HIV vaccine concepts to have showed a positive response in nearly around 40 years of the HIV virus causing havoc among humans.
The tests also showed the vaccine was safe. The main agenda was to target the immune responses generated by the diverse variety of HIV virus strains.
According to a study in The Lancet, a new HIV vaccine is now being tested and developed, showing promising results thus far. Currently, around 37 million people are living with HIV/Aids across the world: levels that amount to a pandemic.
Now it is necessary to conduct further testing and determine whether it could protect from HIV person.
Scientists also carried out a parallel study where they gave rhesus monkeys the vaccine to protect them from getting simian-human immunodeficiency virus - a virus similar to HIV that infects monkeys. Both groups were also given an injection of the common cold virus to boost their immune systems - once at the start of the trial and again 12 weeks in.
Previous HIV-1 vaccine candidates have typically been limited to specific regions of the world.
Based on the results from the APPROACH phase 1/2a clinical trial that involved 393 healthy adults from 12 clinics, a phase 2b trial has been initiated with 2,600 women at risk for acquiring HIV. This is called a "mosaic" of vaccines.
Despite the relatively good results from the human and animal trials, the researchers are careful not to be too confident in the potential vaccine.
In the meantime, you can reduce your risk of contracting HIV by using a condom for all types of sex and by never sharing a needle if you're an injecting drug user. 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.
Barouch is the director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as well as a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School. "We don't know whether protection in monkeys means there will be protection in humans".
Unlike other viruses, such as smallpox, there is substantial variability between HIV viruses: even in one individual.
Researchers have since launched a phase two trial involving 2,600 participants in southern Africa to continue testing how safe and effective the HIV-1 vaccine is. It's unclear whether it would provide protection in humans.
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. "But the data is promising and we are happy to report the immune response".