An experimental two-dose HIV vaccine was produced by an international group of scientists. This vaccination has generated antibodies against the lethal virus in 35 out of 36 patients, as described in a new report that was published in the journal Science, and it did so without causing any major adverse effects. This has given the scientific community reason to be positive about the vaccine.
We still do not know if the vaccine is capable to reliably ward against HIV infection in reality, nor do we know how long any potential protection might persist if it does provide protection. In further clinical tests, those concerns will need to be investigated further. The goal of the vaccination is not to directly combat the HIV virus, as this has been shown to be difficult due to the virus’s capacity to rapidly mutate, but rather to generate antibody cells that are capable of neutralizing the virus. These antibody cells are termed B-cells.
In the first phase of these clinical trials, which began in 2018, 36 healthy individuals aged between 18 and 50 were randomly assigned to receive either two doses of 20 micrograms or two doses of 100 micrograms eight weeks apart. A placebo was given to the participants in the control group, which totaled 12 people.
The findings are clear and unmistakable. Approximately 97% of participants did not experience any serious side effects, and all of the vaccine recipients with the exception of one generated antibodies in response to being administered with the vaccine.
Despite the limited number of participants in the preliminary test, a germline-targeting vaccination has piqued the interest of medical professionals. It is hoped that if this form of immunity can be induced in individuals, they will be protected from some of these viruses for which researchers have had a very difficult time developing vaccines that are effective.
However, a significant amount of additional research and development effort is required before such a vaccine could be administered to protect against HIV. Putting money into this type of development is of the utmost importance not only for the development of a vaccine for HIV, but also for the development of additional vaccines, provided that this technique is successful.