Researchers, including those from Harvard Medical School in the USA, found that the "mosaic" vaccine, created by combining pieces of different HIV viruses, is well-tolerated and generated comparable and robust immune responses against HIV in healthy adults and rhesus monkeys.
The researchers also noted several limitations, including the fact that that the relevance of vaccine protection in rhesus monkeys to clinical efficacy in humans remains unclear.
As a part of this study, the HIV vaccine was tested on three hundred ninety-three people.
Avoid becoming a victim of Fake News. Currently, around 37 million people are living with HIV/Aids across the world: levels that amount to a pandemic.
Creating an effective HIV-1 vaccine has been a huge challenge for researchers. Known as APPROACH, the phase 1/2a trial tested seven different Ad26/Env HIV vaccine regimens for their safety, tolerability and the ability to elicit immune responses in 393 healthy adult volunteers in Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and the United States. However, because the mosaic vaccine attacks multiple strains of the virus, doctors would be able to administer it on a much broader scale, and it could potentially be a powerful weapon against HIV if all goes well. Despite all the advances we have had with HIV, we need a vaccine.
The hope is that it could offer much better protection against the nearly unlimited number of HIV strains found across the world.
Participants from South Africa, East Africa, the United States and Thailand received a "mosaic" vaccine in a double-blind, random, placebo-controlled trial.
In a parallel study, the researchers assessed the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the same Ad26-based mosaic vaccine regimens in 72 rhesus monkeys using a series repeated challenges with simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) - a virus similar to HIV that infects monkeys.
Previous HIV-1 vaccine candidates have typically been limited to specific regions of the world.
"I would say that we are pleased with these data so far, but we have to interpret the data cautiously". In such a scenario, the need for finding a vaccine is essential and also hard. "We have to acknowledge that developing an HIV vaccine is an unprecedented challenge, and we will not know for sure whether this vaccine will protect humans".
The next phase of the pre-approval trial process will include 2,600 women in southern Africa to determine whether HIV infection can be prevented.
The UK newspaper headlines were somewhat overoptimistic, as the design of the study means we can not yet say that the vaccine will truly be effective in people.
"However, it's important to be cautious and be clear that there's a lot of work to do before an effective HIV vaccine is readily available".
"I can not emphasise how badly we need to have a vaccine.to get rid of HIV in the next generation altogether", said Francois Venter of the University of the Witwatersrand Reproductive Health and HIV Institute in South Africa.
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