On Thursday scientists reported that they have developed a HIV vaccine which showed encouraging results in monkey trials. The vaccine did not only protect the monkeys, but it also helped their bodies produce antibodies. More details about the discovery were published in the journal Science.
The study was conducted by Crucell Holland B.V, which is one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chairman of Johnson & Johnson and the lead author of the study said that even though progresses were made in the domain of HIV treatments the disease still remains one of the greatest health threats nowadays with millions of people infected each year.
The pre-clinic research analyzed how effective the prime-boost vaccine was in protecting against the disease. The vaccine used a trimeric envelope protein boost and the AdVac Technology from the Janssen company. First of all the non-human primates were injected with an adenovirus serotype 26 vectored vaccine in order to prepare their immune system. Afterwards they were given a boost of a purified HIV envelope protein with the purpose of strengthening the immune system over time.
Through this procedure the magnitude of the immune response was increased along with the protection against potential viral challenges. The finding suggested that after they were exposed to the virus six times the 12 monkeys were completely protected from the infection with SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) which is the nonhuman equivalent of HIV.
The research also indicates that there is a strong connection between the protective ability of the vaccine and the number of antibody functions. The researchers involved in the study say that this polyfunctionality suggests that the HIV vaccine may be successful in humans as well. Dr. Stoffels declared:
“Our ultimate goal is to develop a vaccine that prevents HIV in the first place. “By Janssen collaborating with multiple stakeholders on new tools, we hope one day to help eradicate HIV.”
Dr. Dan H. Barouch, the director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) said that the HIV vaccine was promising enough to be used on humans as well. At present 400 volunteers are being recruited for a phase 1 trial.
Image Source: Scientific American