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J&J moves one step closer to a potential vaccine for HIV


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HIV testing

Johnson & Johnson will publish data from its first human trials of its HIV vaccine today

 

Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson is to take a big step closer to inventing a vaccine for HIV when it publishes the results of a groundbreaking clinical trial this week.

Sector experts believe the American firm – which is better known for selling shampoo and baby lotion – is behind the world’s most promising potential vaccine for the disease that afflicts 38m million people.

 

At an Aids conference in Paris today, the company will publish data from its first human trials of its vaccine candidate.

This phase two trial will indicate whether the treatment is safe to use in people and if successful will pave the way for wider phase three trials with thousands of people in high-risk areas of Africa. If all goes to plan the vaccine could be launched within the next decade.

 

The human trials follow preclinical trials in monkeys exposed to SIV – a virus similar to HIV but more infectious –which gave them almost complete protection from the disease.

HIV is a virus that destroys the immune system and which can lead to the condition Aids, considered a later stage of HIV.

 

At one time a diagnosis of either condition was considered a death sentence, but thanks to advances in medical science people can take drugs to suppress the virus and leadive long, fulfilled lives.

 

The HIV infection rate has nonetheless continued to rise and experts believe an effective vaccine is the only way to end the epidemic.

“If the vaccine works it really would be a huge advance,” said Mitchell Warren, the executive director for New York-based HIV charity AVAC.

 

He added: “This is a very exciting potential advance and it’s exciting that a company of the scale of Johnson & Johnson is behind it.”

Dozens of potential HIV vaccines have been trialled down the years, but only one has passed phase three tests.

 

That one – a vaccine known as RV144 – has shown modest benefit against the type of HIV in Thailand, in a trial of 16,400 Thai men and women without the disease eight years ago.

 

A trial of a modified version of RV144 also began in South Africa last year.

Mr Warren said Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate differed from past efforts, including RV144, because it had the potential to work across all types of HIV and be a “more globally” effective vaccine.

 

Article source

 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Results from early-stage NIH-funded trial support further development of candidate vaccines.

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