Early-phase HIV vaccines advance on positive data

Years of HIV vaccine failures have given developers plenty of insight into what doesn't work, much of which has fed back into design of new candidates. This week, another two hopefuls advanced down the pipeline on the back of positive early-phase data.

The more advanced of the two candidates is a genetically modified killed whole virus vaccine. In a 52-week Phase I trial of HIV-infected patients, the vaccine increased antibody titers without causing any adverse events. The main researcher behind the vaccine--Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry's Dr. Chil-Yong Kang--hopes to advance into Phase II within a year. South Korea-based Sumagen owns the license for the Canadian-developed vaccine.

Success in Phase II could see other organizations come on-board. "Our sponsoring industrial partner is able and willing to support up to Phase II human clinical trials. However, we need collaboration with multinational pharmaceutical companies, governments, or philanthropists to support Phase III human clinical trials since it costs approximately $70 million," Kang said in a question-and-answer session on Reddit.

The other HIV vaccine in the news this week is still years away from late-phase trials. Data published in Nature shows the vaccine cleared Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) infection from nine of the 16 monkeys that received the jab. "It's always tough to claim eradication. There could always be a cell which we didn't analyze that has the virus in it. But for the most part, with very stringent criteria... there was no virus left in the body of these monkeys," Oregon Health and Science University's professor Louis Picker told the BBC. A Phase I trial could start within the next two years.

- read the Phase I news
- and the Reddit AMA
- check out the BBC article
- here's the Nature abstract