HIV affects more than 38 million people globally and is among the most difficult viruses to target with a vaccine, in large part because of its unusually fast mutation rate which allows it to constantly evolve and evade the immune system.
A novel vaccine approach for the prevention of HIV has shown promise in Phase I trials, reported IAVI and Scripps Research. The vaccine was able to target the desired immune cells and could become the first stage of a multi-step vaccine strategy to combat HIV and various other viral diseases.
The vaccine showed success in stimulating production of rare immune cells needed to start the process of generating antibodies against the fast-mutating virus; the targeted response was detected in 97 percent of participants who received the vaccine.
The study sets the stage for additional clinical trials that will seek to refine and extend the approach – with the long-term goal of creating a safe and effective HIV vaccine.
“This is a tremendous achievement for vaccine science as a whole,” said Dr Dennis Burton, professor and chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research. “This clinical trial has shown that we can drive immune responses in predictable ways to make new and better vaccines, and not just for HIV. We believe this type of vaccine engineering can be applied more broadly, bringing about a new day in vaccinology.”