HIV vaccine trial for SADC countries

Sharon Kavhu recently in Paris, France

Johnson and Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Company is set to embark on an HIV vaccine trial and study in five southern African countries before year end.

In a side-line interview during the International Aids Society (IAS) HIV Science Conference in Paris, France, Dan Barouch, professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the study is expected to be held in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The study we intent to do in the five SADC countries will be a phase 2B.  This follows our previous trials in the United States, and east Africa,” said Prof Barouch

“In southern Africa, our participants will be at least 100 volunteers from the HIV key population.”

Prof Barouch is also a director of the Centre for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deacons Medical Centre.

During, the recently ended IAS, he presented the results of their Phase 2B study to the audience which were so encouraging that Janssen and its global partners decided to further the study in southern Africa.

The Harvard Medical School professor said the goal of these trials was to develop a global vaccine for HIV that would be effective in all parts of the world.

“The ultimate control of the worldwide HIV pandemic will likely require the development of a safe and effective vaccine.  We have been working on this problem for a number of years and our goal is to develop a global vaccine, one that will be effective in all parts of the world,” he said.

“Our current vaccine candidate involves the use of optimised so called ‘mosaic immunogens’ delivered by a common core virus and boosted by pure protein to increase antibiotics responses.”

Initially the study was done in animals in a pre-clinic study before Prof Barouch and his team advanced the study in human beings, which is phase 2A.

Prof Barouch explained: “In pre-clinic study with animals, this vaccine has proved to be 66 percent protection against the acquisition of infections in the animals.

“Together with our partners at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies as well as other collaborators, we have advanced the study of the vaccine into human trial and phase 2A study called ‘Approach’. In this phase we enrolled 393 volunteers in the United States, Eastern Africa, South Africa and South East Africa.

“Today the vaccine has proved to be safe and has 100 percent of the vaccines managed to developed antibiotics that fight infections.  Interestingly, the immune responses that was generated in humans were essential comparable to the immune response to animals study.  However, we do not know yet if the vaccine protects humans from all HIV vaccines.”

He said finding a preventative vaccine has proven to be one of the biggest scientific challenges in the 35 years quest to end the HIV pandermic.

A successful preventative vaccine for HIV, he said, would need to provide broad protection against a wide range of viral strains.

However, the Johnson and Johnson’s study has a promising early stage results, suggesting that the vaccines utilising mosaic immunogens should be evaluated further for their potential ability to achieve this historic goal.

August 2017
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