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J&J announce promising Phase 1/2a results for HIV vaccine

Published on 23/10/18 at 10:17am

The world may be one step closer to discovering a preventative vaccine for HIV following American multinational Johnson & Johnson's announcement of promising early stage results for an experimental HIV vaccine at the 2018 HIV Research for Prevention Conference in Madrid, Spain.

“We urgently need new prevention tools to turn the tide of the HIV pandemic, and an effective preventive vaccine would be a vital asset to help us achieve an HIV-free future,” said Dr Hanneke Schuitemaker, Vice President, Head Viral Vaccine Discovery and Translational Medicine, Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. “Our goal is to develop a universal vaccine that could be deployed against any strain of HIV circulating in the world.”

The experimental tetravalent (4-valent) mosaic viral vector vaccine proved efficacious in significantly enhancing the breadth of immune responses to different HIV-1 strains compared to the trivalent (3-valent) mosaic vector that it was tested in comparison to. The tetravalent vaccine was also well tolerated after 28 weeks.

Notably, developing a HIV vaccine has proved challenging due to the genetic diversity of the virus and its tendency to mutate. As such at least four prior vaccine candidates have failed clinical trial as of now.

However, the new experimental vaccine offers additional hope. Johnson & Johnson’s tetravalent vaccine goes beyond the trivalent vaccine in adding a fourth immunogen in order to elicit a response against the three main proteins in HIV (Env, Pol and Gag) while adding a second Env vector aimed at increasing the breadth of the vaccine.

The vaccine was then tested in the early stage Phase 1/2a TRAVERSE study among HIV-negative volunteers .Following promising results, the vaccine is now being assessed in large scale efficacy testing.

Louis Goss

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