A new AIDS vaccine developed by scientists from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is showing great promising after protecting half of a group of rhesus monkeys against the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a virus that is like HIV but affects monkeys.
The research team introduced the vaccine into the monkeys using the common cold virus, or adenovirus 26, as the carrier to prime the immune system and cause it to develop antibodies. A second vaccine was then administered, this time containing a purified envelope or surface protein of HIV.
The findings showed that the two-step vaccination method completely protected 50 percent of the monkeys against SIV, according to the BIDMC.
Dr. Dan Barouch, lead author of the study and director of the BIDMC's Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, was encouraged with the results.
"These new findings show that the envelope protein boost following the viral vector priming increases the magnitude and functionality of antibody responses and improves protection," Barouch said.
He believes the promising findings of the study will lead them to "a clear path forward for evaluating this HIV vaccine candidate in humans."
Dr. Mary Marovich, director for the vaccine research program of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believes the results are impressive.
"Even protecting half of the people who are exposed to the virus would be a major accomplishment. It could ultimately end the epidemic when you use it in combination with other measures," she said, according to NBC News.
Barouch said that despite the urgency for a safe and effective HIV vaccine, "only four vaccine concepts have been evaluated for protective efficacy in humans over the past 30 years."
He added that one limitation against the development of HIV vaccines was the lack of willingness of major pharmaceutical companies to be involved in clinical development.
"This is the first time in quite a number of years that a major pharmaceutical company has sponsored the clinical development of an HIV vaccine candidate," said Barouch, referring to Janssen, NBC News reported.
Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, sponsored the vaccine development study and is also sponsoring a human trial of the vaccine. The clinical trial is on phase 1-2, meaning the vaccine is being tested for safety and for how it affects the body's immune response.
The human trial involves 400 volunteers from the U.S., South Africa, East Africa and Thailand, The Inquisitr reported.
The study was published in the July 2 issue of the journal Science.