HIV Vaccinations on the Horizon

Scientists continue to pursue the development of an HIV cure.

As medical breakthroughs and treatment options have improved, an HIV vaccination may become a reality.

Scientists at the University of Oxford recently developed an HIV vaccine that kept 5 of 15 patients free of HIV for weeks, without the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), reported Labiotech.

The therapy is designed to prime the immune system to attack HIV infected cells. Thus far, prior studies have found that the vaccine induces an immune response that is thousands of times stronger than other vaccines, according to the report.

The vaccine, called HIV Conserv, generated an immune response as high as 5000 SFUs in a trial, which is 10 times as potent as HVTN 505, according to NAM.

In the ongoing BCN02 trial, participants are administered 3 doses of romidepsin between the first and last vaccine boosts. Romidepsin is a cancer drug found to activate hidden HIV reservoirs to allow the immune system to eliminate the latent cells.

Thus far, 5 of 15 patients are HIV-free without taking ART for weeks. Furthermore, 1 patient has already been clear of the virus for 7 months. The investigators will continue to monitor the participants to determine the length of the therapy’s efficacy.

For patients who respond to the treatment, the regimen shows promising potential. However, investigators hope to determine why some individuals are unresponsive to the therapy.

Other investigative teams are hunting for an HIV cure as well. The UK CHERUB collaboration between 5 top British Universities are in the process of developing an HIV cure that aims to ride the body of hidden latent HIV viruses, with 1 patient who has already been cleared of the virus. Abivax and InnaVirVas is also working towards an HIV cure.

As research continues to advance, the world may see a cure for HIV as early as 2020, Labiotech reported.