New HIV Vaccine Shows Promising Results in Humans, Monkeys

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A Harvard-led team of scientists had early success testing a multi-strain HIV vaccine in humans and monkeys and everyone who received the drug produced at least some kind of anti-HIV immune response, with at least 80 percent producing more advanced responses.

Based on the results from this phase 1/2a clinical trial that involved nearly 400 healthy adults, 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. This is one of only five experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have progressed to efficacy trials in humans in the 35 years of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, Medicalxpress reported.

Previous HIV-1 vaccine candidates have typically been limited to specific regions of the world. 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.

"These results represent an important milestone. This study demonstrates that the mosaic Ad26 prime, Ad26 plus gp140 boost HIV vaccine candidate induced robust immune responses in humans and monkeys with comparable magnitude, kinetics, phenotype, and durability and also provided 67% protection against viral challenge in monkeys", says Professor Dan Barouch Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA who led the study.

Almost 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year. A safe and effective preventative vaccine is urgently needed to curb the HIV pandemic.

In the 35 years of the HIV epidemic, only four HIV vaccine concepts have been tested in humans, and only one has provided evidence of protection in an efficacy trial—a canarypox vector prime, gp120 boost vaccine regimen tested in the RV144 trial in Thailand lowered the rate of human infection by 31% but the effect was considered too low to advance the vaccine to common use.

A key hurdle to HIV vaccine development has been the lack of direct comparability between clinical trials and preclinical studies.

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.

The Ad26/Ad26 plus gp140 vaccine candidate induced the greatest immune responses in humans and also provided the best protection in monkeys—resulting in complete protection against SHIV infection in two-thirds of the vaccinated animals after six challenges.

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