New HIV Vaccine Shows Promising Results in Primates


Scientists have been able to develop an HIV vaccine that has been effective in half of the monkeys on which it was tested. Johnson and Johnson in a statement released on July 2 announced that it has collaborated with a team composed of international experts to conduct a study and test the effectiveness of an HIV vaccine regimen on non-human primates. The result of the preclinical study was published in the online journal Science.

It was a collective effort between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), Crucell Holland BV and a few other collaborators. They came together to test the HIV vaccine regimen in monkeys. The vaccine was effective in half of all the primates. The results of the study will usher to the development of an HIV vaccine that is effective in humans.

J &J’s chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels noted that the effectiveness of the vaccine has not been proved in humans though he is optimistic and hopeful of seeing something similar in humans.

The experiment involved a vaccine divided into two parts. The first was a cold-causing virus that pushed three HIV proteins into the body and provoking the defensive mechanism of the body to generate antibodies and secondly a purified HIV protein booster to augment the body’s response.

Researchers injected 12 monkeys with the primary vaccine, another 12 monkeys with the prime-boost vaccines and eight monkeys with placebo. All the monkeys were then given six doses of HIV.
Of the 12 monkeys who were given the primary vaccine, two remained HIV-free. Of the group that received the prime – boost vaccine, six were HIV free. All the eight monkeys who received placebo were tested HIV positive.

The monkeys were given six doses of Primate HIV, which was 100 times more virulent than humans. Blood extracted from the monkeys that resisted HIV were given to new monkeys who later on did not get infected.

The latest tests in primates have enhanced confidence in the prospect for a vaccine that would bring an end to the world’s deadliest infectious disease in people.