Promising new HIV vaccine
An effective HIV vaccine has eluded scientists for decades for two reasons: There are dozens of strains of the virus, and it also rapidly mutates to elude a successful attack by the immune system. But a team of researchers has developed a new “mosaic” vaccine that includes pieces of many different AIDS strains and has gotten promising results in trials on humans and monkeys. Several dosages and formulations of the experimental drug were given to 393 healthy volunteers from South Africa, eastern Africa, Thailand, and the United States who were at low risk for infection. They showed a significant anti-HIV immune response. In the test of 72 rhesus monkeys, the formulation that appeared most promising among humans protected 67 percent of the monkeys from the simian form of HIV. “These results represent an important milestone,” the study’s lead author, Dan Barouch, tells BBC.com. Based on these new results, a larger human trial designed to determine if the vaccine will prevent people from contracting HIV is already underway in sub-Saharan Africa.