Published: Thu, December 01, 2016
Health | By Constance Griffith

New HIV vaccine trial to start in South Africa

The HVTN 702 study is a large, advanced-stage clinical trial that aims to determine if an experimental vaccine regimen is safe, tolerable and effective at protecting against the HIV virus.

According to UNAIDS, half of the 36 million or so people with HIV around the world have access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), a figure that has doubled in five years.

Fauci claims that even a moderately effective vaccine will have a significant effect in reducing the numbers of HIV infections.

Anthony Fauci, director of the United States government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said Sunday, in a statement released ahead of the trial, said the new vaccine is promising.

The other half of the volunteers will receive a placebo as part of a control group. The aim is to reduce or prevent HIV infection in South Africa where one million Africans die from the disease every year. The country has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world - 19.2 percent according to the UN AIDS agency - with more than seven million people living with the virus.

HIV vaccines will be tested in the largest clinical trials ever performed in South Africa where the vaccine will use a strain specific to the HIV pandemic in the country.

Upsets reorder group behind No. 1 Alabama
The Crimson Tide, who have been atop the rankings all season, are the first unanimous No. 1 since Ohio State early last season. No. 2 Ohio State stands a great chance, if it wins its last two games, of being the first non-conference champion selected.

The new vaccine trials are officially known as HVTN 702 and the vaccine that is being tested is the modified version of a previous drug which showed a number of positive results in other trials in Thailand.

Dr Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council, said: "The people of South Africa are making history by conducting and participating in the first HIV vaccine efficacy study to build on the results of the Thai trial".

Scientific advances have given us the tools we need to end new HIV infections and save lives.

"Director of University of Nairobi's Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative-Institute of Clinical Research Prof Omu Anzala said if the South African vaccine shows promise, we will learn something from it to improve what we will come up with in future", he said.

There is a desperate need for vaccine trials, but they have a long history of failure, are hard to design, and are large, complicated and expensive, notes the Post.

If the trial is successful, the funders will receive a license to produce the vaccine. To do that, the vaccine would have to prove 50 percent to 60 percent effective, which would enable Sanofi Pasteur and GSK to start licensing negotiations with the government of South Africa. Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study is the first in 7 years to evaluate this type of vaccine. Clinical trial This approach, called passive immunisation, has been used for more than 100 years to treat viruses such as rabies, but has only recently become an option for HIV.

Like this: