The Only Advanced HIV Vaccine Failed. Next? The producer of the last remaining HIV vaccine on Wednesday reported more setbacks in a field plagued by failure for so long.
In the last few decades, many potential HIV vaccines have been tried and abandoned. In light of this latest setback, scientists predict that developing a vaccine will take three to five years. However, alternative methods currently in preclinical testing may one day prove to be an effective defense against HIV.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases until last December, described the news as “disappointing, but it isn’t the end of the work toward producing a vaccine” in an interview. Alternative strategies are available.
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The PrEPVacc trial now assesses a cocktail of HIV preventative medications and investigational vaccinations in Eastern and Southern Africa. According to scientists, significant progress has been made in developing potent antibodies that can neutralize the virus. Additionally, mRNA is being explored as a potential component of a potential HIV vaccine.
Nonetheless, the failure of the most recent candidate highlights the difficulties of building a vaccine against a foe as cunning as HIV. More than a million and a half people are still an infected year, and about 650,000 are lost to the virus even though it was discovered 40 years ago.
HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence for citizens of more developed countries. Infected people can take potent medications to inhibit the infection. Infection can be avoided in several ways: In the United States, for instance, shots every two months and pills are already on the market, and an image that would only need to be administered once every six months is in the last stages of clinical testing.
However, the most vulnerable populations frequently lack access to these lifelong treatments. To best protect against the virus, vaccination would be preferable.
According to Fauci, safe and efficient vaccines are “the ultimate prevention method” for any infection, including viral infection. That’s why researchers in the field plan to keep digging deep into the topic.
Mosaico, a trial led by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, is wrapping up this year. The vaccine was administered at over 50 sites in 9 countries across North America, South America, and Europe to 3,900 cisgender males (those who have always identified as male) and transgender individuals who had sex with cisgender men and transgender individuals.
The vaccine’s mosaic of components was designed to counter the many distinct strains of HIV that exist today. However, the immune response it elicited against the virus lacked a sizable quantity of so-called neutralizing antibodies, the most potent weapons against infection.
However, Fauci did say that the trial results indicate that a successful vaccine should stimulate the body to develop broadly neutralizing antibodies.
An independent data and safety monitoring board found that the vaccine was safe but did not reduce the spread of HIV more than a placebo did after analyzing preliminary trial data. The advisory committee suggested that the firm cease the experiment and notify the participants.
Experts weren’t surprised by the result because similar research into another vaccine, Imbokodo, was terminated in 2021. It involved cisgender women from five sub-Saharan African nations who were given the vaccination.
According to Mitchell Warren, executive director of the HIV prevention organization AVAC, the research failure is incredibly upsetting given they were partly funded by Johnson & Johnson.
According to Warren, “not that many businesses get involved in infectious illness vaccines,” making the failure to bring the product to market a significant disappointment.
He continued, “It’s not that all hope is lost; we need to redirect our resources to best impact.” This information should motivate governments and campaigners to think of methods to make the present instruments for avoiding HIV more broadly accessible.