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What Students in R&D Pharmaceutical Training Should Know About the Exciting HIV Vaccine Trials

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The HIV virus has infected 75 million people since the epidemic began, and no cure has been found yet. However, progress in the fight against HIV has been made. Since its first trial in 2007, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been working on an HIV vaccine called DNA-rTV. That vaccine will be going into phase 2 human trials soon.

Another vaccine using CMV, a common herpes virus, is close human trials and has had some success treating SIV, a version of HIV in monkeys. Later this year, Johnson & Johnson will also be conducting a phase 3 trial of an HIV vaccine in North and South America and Europe. Read for more about these developments!

How the DNA-rTV Vaccine Works for Those in R&D Pharmaceutical Training

The DNA-rTV vaccine replicates parts of the DNA of HIV and is intended to trigger immunisation when it is administered. The vaccine initially replicates HIV DNA, after which the immune system produces antibodies. Injection is meant to protect the body from HIV. The virus cannot be contracted from the vaccine, due to its use of DNA segments rather than the entire virus.

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The DNA-rTV vaccine replicates segments of HIV DNA

The vaccine is the first of its kind to enter a second phase human trial. You may already know from your R&D pharmaceutical program that phase 2 of clinical research tests for efficacy and side effects in patients. This phase is planned to be done by the end of 2021, with the third phase possibly starting at the end of that year. An interesting fact to note is that this vaccine is based on the one for smallpox, which was the only vaccine to ever eradicate a human disease.

How CMV Might Be Used to Vaccinate against HIV

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a form of the common herpes virus. In one potential treatment for HIV, CMV was used in a weakened state to treat SIV, which is a version of HIV that affects monkeys. The vaccine was shown to eliminate SIV in 59% of subjects. In addition, it created long-lasting immunity in the majority of the animals it was tested on. Once the CMV vaccine goes to human trial, the platform is planned to be used for a tuberculosis treatment as well.

Cytomegalovirus may eventually be used to treat and prevent HIV in humans
Cytomegalovirus may eventually be used to treat and prevent HIV in humans

What R&D Pharmaceutical Program Grads Should Know About Mosaico

Finally, Mosaico is the second efficacy study for the HIV vaccine from Janssen Pharmaceutical, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson. The vaccine is designed to protect against multiple HIV-1 strains. So far, the phase 2b clinical trial, Imbokodo, has been testing efficacy on 2600 young females in five southern African countries. The next study, phase 3, will focus on 3800 transgender people and men who have relations with men.

This will be the largest study that Janssen has done for this vaccine, with first results expected in 2023. These trials are meant to serve global populations who are the most at risk of contracting HIV. As you will know from R&D pharmaceutical training, clinical trials are designed to choose subjects who are most likely to benefit from the treatment being tested.

While it will still be at least a couple years before we know whether any of these trials will lead to an effective HIV vaccine, these recent developments in the search for one are extremely exciting.

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