A candidate for the HIV vaccine is showing good initial results, making 97 percent of vaccine recipients an important part of a person’s immune system.
It was a small, phase one trial of a vaccine made from a protein made from the HIV virus. Small particles These small particles are designed to prepare the body to produce antibodies that are thought to be important for protection against HIV.
Neutralizing antibodies can recognize many types of HIV, which is important for protection because HIV mutates frequently.
Forty-eight participants received either the vaccine or a placebo, and 35 of 36 of those who received the vaccine showed activation of B cells that could lead to protective immunity.
The purpose of this method is to teach the immune system to recognize several different types of HIV, according to William Schief, one of the authors of the study. Schief is a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research.
“There are only a few patches on the surface of the HIV virus that are the same or similar in different areas,” said Schief.
In the study of phase 1, no one reported negative effects, and other effects such as injection pain or headache were very small, and resolved in one or two days.
These results, published in an academic journal Science on December 1, 2022, which was World AIDS Day, was first announced in 2021 at a meeting held by the International AIDS Society HIV Research for Prevention. The trial was conducted by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Scripps Research.
Researchers have been trying to develop an HIV vaccine for nearly 40 years
HIV is a very difficult vaccine. Some of this is due to HIV’s tendency to mutate. By changing and changing rapidly, it can evade the immune system by making itself difficult to detect.
In addition, no one, except for a very small number of people, has been cured of HIV. This means that we do not know which types of immune cells will protect against disease.
In theory, this vaccine will be the first of several vaccines, each using different HIV particles to train the immune system. As the shot progresses, these molecules get closer to the actual HIV virus, until the antibodies produced are able to bind to different types of HIV.
“This is a new way of thinking about how to make vaccines,” Schief said.
Moderna is developing its own HIV vaccine based on similar research
According to Schief, his team is currently working with the biotech giant Moderna to develop and test a vaccine that delivers HIV particles via mRNA, rather than the protein that recent research has used. One phase 1 study is testing the particles, as well as the smaller particles, with an mRNA delivery system. Another study is testing the same feature in a clinical trial in Africa.
It will take time for phase 2 trials to begin, according to Schief, and there is no guarantee that the vaccine will work.
But in that case, the method could be used to make other vaccines, he said, such as a universal vaccine for the coronavirus or the flu.
“We’re optimistic that there’s a chance that this approach will be more effective than HIV,” Schief said, “although it may be more effective against HIV.”
This article was first published by Business Insider.
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