A Promising Beginning to the Trial
Johnson & Johnson has been working on an experimental HIV vaccine. Trials recently began on the testing of this vaccine, and initial results look extremely promising, according to a study published in the journal Science. The testing was done on monkeys, and half of the monkeys tested were successfully protected from HIV. While HIV remedies have progressed significantly over the years, making headway on an HIV vaccine has been a much slower process. These tests have the potential to be a big step in the right direction with regards to finally developing an effective HIV vaccine.
What Happened During the Study?
This is the first clinical test of an HIV vaccine sponsored by a major pharmaceutical company since Merck attempted to do the exact same thing in 2007. The trial, now underway, is international – the United States, East Africa, South Africa, and Thailand are all taking part, offering up a total of 400 healthy volunteers to be tested. This HIV vaccine is utilizing a similar strategy to that of a new Ebola vaccine that’s also currently in early trials. The monkeys in this new trial were exposed to an exceptionally high level of SIV, otherwise known as simian immunodeficiency virus. SIV, while not exactly the same as HIV, is similar enough to it that it is a viable option to test vaccines with. The strength of the virus the monkeys were exposed to was so strong so as to more effectively test the limits of the HIV vaccine. After six exposures to the virus, all of the monkeys that were unvaccinated were infected. Of those who did get the vaccine, half of them ended up being completely protected from the virus.
What Does This Mean For the Future?
This HIV vaccine study has exciting prospects, to say the least. J&J fully anticipates that it will ultimately be even more effective when given to humans, which their chief scientific officer attributes to the extremely potent infection rate in the study. He also notes the impact this HIV vaccine could have incredible impact even if it only works on half of humans. A larger study is anticipated within 18-24 months.