The virus led to high mortality rate across the world. However, researchers may have come closer to creating a HIV vaccine. The University of Maryland School of Medicine launched its Phase 1 clinical trials for a new treatment. The immunogen, known as the Full-Length Single Chain (FLSR), could potentially induce protective antibody responses to HIV-1 strains, going where previous trial vaccines have fallen short.
“Maryland is one of the top science, bio-health, and research regions in the country and is home to some of the most brilliant minds in the world,” Maryland Lt. Governor Rutherford said.“I am especially proud to help announce this first phase of a potential HIV vaccine that is being developed by a talented team at UMD. The Hogan administration will continue to place a priority on supporting the Maryland universities, start-ups, and institutions that are making these groundbreaking discoveries.”
The researchers claim the vaccine is effective and will help many people. The FLSC is distinguished by its potential ability to induce broad antibody responses to HIV-1. The antibodies induced by the experimental vaccine bind to common HIV regions that are exposed when the virus attaches to target cells, rather than to specific characteristics of the HIV envelope protein that may not be present in all virus strains. This strategy could potentially overcome limitations of previous vaccine candidates that responded to a narrower range of HIV strains.
In South Africa trials are being carried out with two different vaccines. Many scientists and researchers are involved in the process to make sure it’s a success. The clinical tests form part of the international HIV Vaccine Trials Network, costing about $100 000 million and supported by various organizations and institutions.
SA started the clinical trials sometimes back where researchers adapted a vaccine that was tested in Thailand to South Africa’s HIV strain. About 252 people in South Africa are already involved in the study and will receive eight vaccinations during a period of one and a half years.
Scientists are currently working on ways to make the vaccine more effective. Prof Linda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council and Dr Larry Corey from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in the USA said that they will administer a booster vaccine to make it effective. “If the results show promise, we will involve 5,000 people next year and we hope to have the results by 2020. It will be the outcome of work started here already in 2009.” He added.
The (RV144) vaccine works in the same way as all other vaccines across the globe. The body has to manufacture antibodies to attack the pathogen. However, in the case of HIV it’s necessary to administer a yearly booster injection because of decreasing immunity. The second vaccine will involve 3,900 people in America, South America and Africa South of the Sahara. This will include clinical areas across South Africa. These tests will start in January. “We are optimistic that it will work, but one must never underestimate a virus,” Corey said.