An HIV vaccine under development by scientists has passed through to the next phase, creating hope for a future after more than 40 years of research and development.
Participants in the research were selected from 12 clinics in East Africa, South Africa, Thailand, and the USA. The HIV-1 vaccine proved safe and is currently set to go to the next phase, which will be conducted in 2600 women in Southern Africa in a trial called imbokodo, a Zulu word for ‘rock’.
“I would say that we are pleased with these data so far, but we have to interpret the data cautiously. We have to acknowledge that developing an HIV vaccine is an unprecedented challenge, and we will not know for sure whether this vaccine will protect humans,” said study co-author Dr. Dan H. Barouch, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research.
A side experiment using the various strains of the vaccine was conducted on monkeys and the most effective result showed 67 per cent of monkeys were protected.
The news creates an optimistic picture in a world where more than 37m people are living with HIV and with 1.8m new cases of HIV infection every year.
However, the scientists are fast to temper the optimism saying that the process still has a long way to go and that a successful trial does not necessarily mean a viable vaccine.