Are we closing-in on HIV vaccine? New vaccine shows promise in primates

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Researchers have revealed success in lab experiments involving non-human primates (NHPs) and a HIV vaccine stating that their their HIV-1 vaccine regimen which involved a viral vector boosted with a purified envelope protein, provided complete protection in half of all the NHPs against a series of six repeated challenges with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a virus similar to HIV that infects NHPs.

Previously researchers involved in the latest research had shown that adenovirus vector-based HIV-1 vaccine candidates offered partial protection against SIV when given alone. The results of the latest research demonstrate that viral vector priming plus protein boosting resulted in complete protection in half of the vaccinated animals.

Lead author of the study, Dan H. Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., who is the director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School expressed that the latest findings shows improvement over their previous results. Barouch further added that the protection correlated with the magnitude and polyfunctionality of antibody responses. The data show the potential utility of envelope protein boosting following Ad26 priming.

“Bringing the global HIV epidemic under control requires new tools, bold strategies and collaboration among a number of stakeholders,” said Hanneke Schuitemaker, one of the study authors and vice president, Viral Vaccines Discovery and Translational Medicine, Janssen. “In line with our company’s commitment to address global health needs, we are committed to working with leading experts to develop a preventative HIV vaccine and our team is excited to advance this program into human clinical studies.”

Based on these pre-clinical data, the HIV-1 version of this vaccine regimen is now being evaluated in an ongoing Phase 1/2a international clinical study sponsored by Crucell Holland B.V., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Findings of the research have been published in Science.