Promising Results from HIV Vaccine Testing

A clinical trial has tested a HIV vaccine in both humans and monkeys.

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Seeking an Effective Vaccine

The vaccine was designed to stimulate certain proteins that can interact with HIV and prevent it from producing a permanent infection.

Researchers recruited 393 healthy people to take part in the trial. They received the vaccine or a placebo – participants and researchers were not aware which – and were monitored for a year.

The researchers looked at different versions of the vaccine during the study to see which might work best.

Simultaneously, a similar study took place on 72 rhesus monkeys for comparison. The study saw the monkeys exposed to HIV infection for six weeks to see if the vaccine was effective.

Results of the Study

The aim was to see whether the vaccine was safe and whether it was still working after a year. After that time, both humans and monkeys still had traces of the vaccine in their immune system.

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When the monkeys were exposed to a type of HIV that affects monkeys and apes, different types of the vaccine provided different levels of protection.

In a group of 12 monkeys, the vaccine prevented HIV infection among two-thirds.

Human participants’ immune systems coped differently with variant versions of the vaccine. The best result or ‘binding response’ was 100% at 52 weeks.

Future trials are due to take place on the vaccine.

Background of the Study

The researchers came from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and pharmaceutical firm Janssen.

This particular study was a combination of a phase 1 and phase 2 trials: adaptive phase 1 clinical studies are engineered to find out whether an intervention is safe and effective at the most basic level. Parameters of the trial can be modified according to observations.

In these adaptive phase 1 clinical studies, the researchers decided to conduct studies in monkeys and humans in tandem to make the testing process more effective.

The future stage mentioned above is a phase 3 trial, where greater numbers of people receive the vaccine.

For more on human HIV testing, see https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/hiv-vaccine-successful-tests-new-aids-clinical-human-trial-a8436391.html.

These findings are positive. But the study was only designed to test for safety and effectiveness at a basic level. The further trials still to be held will build on the work of this study.