HIV: Are We One Step Closer to a Vaccine?
Phase I research into a vaccine for HIV has just concluded, showing immense promise for the treatment which is the first real contender we have for an effective vaccine. The collaboration between Sumagen Canada Inc. and Western University has just published its data from the year-long trail, showing no adverse events for any of the volunteers involved.
The study drug, SAV001-H, is looking to be the first preventative HIV vaccine. Developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, it is based on the biological techniques found in currently-available and successful vaccines for polio, influenza and rabies which use the killed whole virus as the vaccine. The HIV-1 is genetically engineered and then killed before being injected via intramuscular (IM) administration.
The trial was randomized, observer-blinded and placebo-controlled and the male and female participants were all suffering from asymptomatic HIV infection. The aim of the trial was to prove the safety of the drug within the human body. The volunteers recorded their own adverse reactions and were also periodically assessed for any untoward reactions relating to their haematology, clinical chemistry, urinalysis and physicality. During the trial period of 52 weeks, there were no registered adverse effects which is extremely encouraging.
In addition to the safety research, analysis was also recorded of the HIV-1 specific antibodies within the volunteers. It was shown that two of the most important antibodies, p24 capsid antigen and gp120 surface antigen, were both increased after the treatment. This was an effect that could still be recorded 52 weeks later at the end of the trial period.
Next steps for the vaccine involve phase II trials, which will investigate the immunogenicity and efficacy of the study drug.
HIV/AIDS is a global problem, with 35 million people already killed due to the virus, and a similar number currently living with the condition. Treatments have improved in recent years but are expensive and are more about improving the quality of life for sufferers rather than curing them. It is thought that the big step forward in beating HIV will come with a vaccine.
To read more about the research, please click here:
Image of HIV is provided courtesy of ZIZO Magazine, http://www.zizo-magazine.be/sites/default/files/field/image/hiv.jpg