Experimental HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial

AIDS activists light a group of candles placed in the shape of a red ribbon during an event marking World AIDS Day in Manila

Dr. Dan H. Barouch is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research. In a similarly designed study, Barouch and colleagues tested the same vaccine for its ability to protect rhesus monkeys challenged with an HIV-like virus from infection.

This is 1 of only 5 experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have progressed to efficacy trials in humans over 35 years.

An experimental HIV vaccine showed promise of protecting healthy adults from contracting the deadly virus that killed millions of people in the past years.

Jean-Daniel Lelievre of France's Vaccine Research Institute said the vaccine was likely not the "definitive" version, but may represent "a phenomenal advance". "Obviously, the search for an HIV vaccine is very elusive", said Dr. Carlos del Rio, who was not involved with the study but has done similar research as the co-principal investigator of the Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit. del Rio spoke with CNN about the vaccine.

Meant to provide broad protection from the many strains of HIV that are prevalent worldwide, the "mosaic" vaccine contains a patchwork of genetic sequences found among various HIV strains.

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.

Some researchers explain that the vaccine is not a solution to the virus, which even if it induces an immune response to HIV, it can not prevent humans from getting the virus. The resulting vaccine, the scientists hoped, would trigger an immune response against wide range of strains of the virus.

A HIV vaccine that has the potential to protect people around the world from the virus has shown promising results.

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The vaccine improved the immune responses against HIV during a clinical trial involving almost 40 healthy adults.

For the prime vaccine, used to stimulate an initial immune response, participants were injected with Ad26.Mos.HIV, which uses a strain of the common-cold virus.

However, researchers said these results should be interpreted cautiously.

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.

According to UNAIDS, the United Nations program on HIV and AIDS, an estimated 1.8 million people around the world become infected with the virus every year, with about 5,000 new cases every day.

The trial recruited 393 HIV-uninfected adults aged 18 to 50 from clinics in east Africa, South Africa, Thailand and the US. They received four shots each over 48 weeks.

"Implementation of even a moderately effective HIV vaccine together with the existing HIV prevention and treatment strategies is expected to contribute greatly to the evolving HIV/AIDS response", the editorial continued.

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