Duke Researchers Uncover New Findings from Existing HIV Studies

September 3, 2014
Krystle Vermes

Following recent analysis, researchers found that infants who received HIV vaccines showed immune response to the vaccine.

Following recent analysis, researchers found that infants who received HIV vaccines showed immune response to the vaccine.

After analyzing findings of HIV vaccine trials that took place more than a decade ago, Duke University researchers discovered new, previously undetected immune responses in infants who were administered an HIV vaccination, and reported their findings in the August 28, 2014, online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

To conduct their research, researchers looked at the PACTG 230 trial that began in 1993 and the PACTG 326 trial that started in 1998. In PACTG 230, infants who were born to mothers with HIV were split into 3 separate groups. One group received the VaxGen vaccine, another received the Chiron vaccine, and the third received a placebo.

In PACTG 326, babies who were born to HIV-positive women were split into 2 groups: 1 received 4 doses of an ALVAC-HIV vaccine alone, while the other received the vaccination with a booster.

The Duke researchers discovered that 59% of the infants who received the VaxGen vaccine and 79%of those who received the Chiron vaccine showed an immune system response to the injection at 1 year of age, and that 28% and 56% respectively continued to show a response at 2 years of age.

"It's encouraging to find that the vaccines had induced an antibody response that lasted so long," said lead author Genevieve G. Fouda, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke. "In this population of infants, where the main goal is to prevent HIV transmission from mother-to-child during the period of breast feeding, inducing a two-year immunity would be long enough to be beneficial."

Each year, about 260,000 babies around the world contract HIV from their mothers. Fouda went onto say that additional studies could potentially determine if vaccines have the power to protect against HIV infection or serve as a marker of protection.

"Scientists are trying to develop new vaccines that have an even better response than those we identified in the early trials," Fouda continued. "Our work showed that vaccinated infants can make long-lasting, potentially protective antibody responses. It will be important to include infants in future HIV vaccine studies."