Promising HIV Vaccine in Development
More than 1.1 Million U.S. Citizens Are Infected
by Ali Khan, age 16
SAV001-H is a new vaccine designed to prevent the infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It was developed by a research team at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Western Ontario. The vaccine has completed stage one of human clinical trials testing its safety. More trials are necessary to decide whether or not the vaccine is safe and effective for its target population.
SAV001-H is a genetically modified version of a killed HIV. Because it emulates the virus so effectively, the vaccine allows the body to produce antibodies targeted to multiple parts of the virus despite its rapidly mutating nature.
Program leader Dr. Chil Yong Kang said the phase one trial proved the safety of the vaccine in HIV-positive people. Dr. Kang said, “Our vaccine was totally safe—there were no adverse affects after administration during the one year of observation.”
Not only did the stage one trials prove safety, but when vaccinated with SAV001-H, the antibodies of people infected with HIV were boosted 64-fold.
Although this is a promising outcome, Kang estimated research could take another eight years before the vaccine is readily available. He said it still needs to pass two more stages of human clinical trials. Stage three will take the longest, three to four years, because it requires an analysis of human populations that would naturally be exposured.
Although Kang said that the vaccine will not be of benefit to anyone already infected with the virus, his team is still working on a therapeutic cure for HIV positive people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with the HIV infection.
Alex Kruger, communications marketing manager at Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, said, “I think this shows there’s promise in HIV care research and that it shows there is a need and importance to continue to fund HIV research.”
Because Kang dreams of making the vaccine accessible to everyone, he insists it should be given free of charge to people who can’t afford it. After the next two trials, the world may see a free prevention for HIV.
[Source: Western Gazette; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]