HIV vaccine shows significant immunity boost in human trials

Good news out of Canada in the search for an HIV vaccine: Scientists announced a vaccine candidate showed no adverse effects and significantly boosted immunity in human trials.

Researchers from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in Ontario are working on a vaccine dubbed SAV001-H, the only HIV vaccine being developed in Canada. The vaccine, approved by the FDA for clinical trials last year, uses a killed whole HIV-1 virus to spark an immune response. The same strategy was used to develop influenza, polio, rabies and hepatitis A vaccines.

In the Phase I study, HIV-positive men and women aged 18 to 50 were split into two groups, with 18 people receiving the vaccine and 6 getting a placebo.

"There were no adverse effects," Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, professor of virology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, told the Toronto Star. "And after the vaccination, the level of (HIV-1) antibodies increased significantly. That means our vaccine is working to stimulate the immune responses."

In one individual, researchers saw a thirty-twofold increase in the level of HIV-1 antibodies. Another showed a tenfold increase.

Now, researchers will move on to Phase II, a study slated to begin next year. This yearlong study will test the vaccine on 600 HIV-negative volunteers at high risk for infection so researchers can gauge immune response.

- get more from the Toronto Star
- see the release

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