In a research paper published in Science, scientists have announced that a new AIDS vaccine was able to completely prevent HIV infection in half of the non-human primate test subjects. The monkeys used for this study received the new AIDS vaccine and were then injected with SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus). SIV is very similar to HIV. A total of six injections of SIV were given to the monkeys to find the point where the vaccine would fail.
The reason scientists are hopeful the new AIDS vaccine works is due to the combination of high exposure rate and the number of test subjects that did not get sick. Johnson & Johnson were so thrilled with the new AIDS vaccine that they have already started testing on humans. The human trial has 400 people in it from Thailand, South Africa, East Africa, and the United States. The last time humans participated in a clinical trial for a HIV vaccine was in 2007. If the results of this small human study are similar to the result of the monkeys, then a larger scale clinical trial could begin within the next two years.
The new AIDS vaccine has two steps. In step one, the test subject is given a shot of a weakened cold virus. This allows the genes of HIV to enter the body. In step two, test subjects received a very pure form of an HIV surface protein. This causes the body’s immune system to strongly react to the invader.
Dr. Mary Marovich, who directs the vaccine research program at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke about the new AIDS vaccine.
“I do think that their results are impressive. Even protecting half of the people who are exposed to the virus would be a major accomplishment. It could ultimately end the epidemic when you use it in combination with other measures.”
Creating an AIDS vaccine has baffled scientists for more than 30 years. Worldwide, 35 million people have AIDS. Of those 35 million, 3.2 million are children who received the virus through their infected mothers.
The company developing the new AIDS vaccine is Janssen. The vice president in charge of developing viral vaccines at Janssen, Hanneke Schuitemaker, commented on the future.
“The company recognizes that the future is in prevention and that we really should work on vaccine that can prevent infectious disease.”
Do you think this new AIDS vaccine will be the one to get rid of the deadly virus?
[Image via Sebastian Kaulitzki / Shutterstock]