Harvard's HIV Vaccine Candidate Offers Glimmer of Hope in AIDS Battle

Harvard's HIV Vaccine Candidate Offers Glimmer of Hope in AIDS Battle

The experimental vaccine which is called as HIV 1 vaccine was seemed to be effective among humans, this previous experimental vaccine was having the disadvantage as this was only effective in certain areas of the world.

Condoms are still at the frontline of efforts to prevent infection - mainly through sex and blood contact - though more and more people use ART as prophylaxis. The 'mosaic' HIV-1 vaccine has the potential to protect people globally from the virus.

However, there's a strong incentive for this vaccine to succeed.

Unlike past efforts, which only focused on specific HIV strains, this vaccine is a "mosaic" that includes pieces of multiple strains in a bid to create a more universal drug. Should it prove effective, doctors could administer vaccine on a broad scale where past vaccines would have only worked for small populations even if they'd worked well.

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

The scientists carried out a parallel study where they gave rhesus monkeys the vaccine to check for the analysis to protect monkeys from getting simian-human immunodeficiency virus - a virus which is similar to HIV that infects monkeys. "Obviously, the search for an HIV vaccine is very elusive". Last Saturday the research bore fruit when a team of scientists announced that a trial drug has shown immune response in humans and also protected laboratory monkeys from HIV infection.

Inventing a vaccine has proved an huge challenge for scientists, in part because there are so many strains of the virus, but also because HIV is adept at mutating to elude attack from our immune systems.

Over 37 million people live with HIV or AIDS around the world.

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For now, people infected with HIV rely on lifelong virus-suppressing anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to stay healthy.

The result of the study, published in The Lancet on July 6, showed that "mosaic" vaccine was able to trigger anti-HIV immune responses in healthy individuals. The results from the upcoming trials on humans are expected to arrive by around 2021 or 2022.

This study was funded by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention BV and the National Institutes of Health (OD024917, AI068618, AI078526, AI096040, AI124377, AI126603, AI128751, TR001102), the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and a cooperative agreement (W81XWH-07-2-0067) between the Henry M Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine and the US Department of Defense.

Dan H. Barouch, MD, PhD, is Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Professor Barouch said, "These results should be interpreted cautiously". A safe and effective preventative vaccine is urgently needed to curb the HIV pandemic.

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

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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