Will We Ever Have An HIV Vaccine?

It’s been more than 35 years since the emergence of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, and over that time, the hunt for an HIV vaccine has proven to be a long-winding, elusive road for researchers.

However, new findings from an early-stage clinical trial of a potential HIV vaccine candidate have proven to be encouraging.

A new study published in The Lancet shows a positive immune response to an HIV-1 vaccine in adult humans and rhesus monkeys.

Beyond this, the vaccine candidate was shown to protect monkeys from simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), an HIV-like virus that only affects monkeys. While we haven’t yet seen the development of a definitive HIV vaccine, this research is having a ripple effect in the field.

A second-phase clinical trial in southern African countries is going on right now, testing 2,600 women who are at risk for contracting HIV.

Early results from the study, known as the APPROACH clinical trial, were initially presented at last year’s International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science in Paris.

The team, led by researcher Dr. Dan H. Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, gave the trial of the “mosaic” vaccine (which means that they took parts of different HIV viruses and combined them in one vaccine to try to elicit an immune response to a range of HIV strains) to 393 healthy adult participants from Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, and the United States.

“This study demonstrates that the mosaic HIV vaccine candidate induced robust and comparable immune responses in humans and monkeys. Moreover, the vaccine provided 67 percent protection against viral challenge in monkeys,” Barouch wrote in an email to Healthline.