Bionor HIV vaccine lowers viral load, ART need

Norwegian biotech Bionor Pharma has released results from a study of its therapeutic HIV vaccine, Vacc-4x. After initially planning to shelve the vaccine last October, the company is now plotting three more studies. The move comes with new evidence showing the jab lowered patients' viral loads and negated the need for antiretroviral therapy.

In the study, participants received either 6 shots of Vacc-4x in addition to their antiretroviral pill regimen or a water injection with the pills. Vacc-4x kept 30% of patients off antiretroviral drugs for over a year after treatment, while only 18% of those receiving the placebo experienced the same result, according to the company. Also, 70% of participants receiving Vacc-4x had lower viral load levels 6 months post-treatment, an effect not seen in the placebo group.

The vaccine targets p24, a common capsid protein between multiple HIV strains. "We don't see this as a standalone alternative to antiretroviral therapy," Vidar Wendel-Hansen, Bionor's chief medical officer, told Bloomberg. "What we do see is the long-term potential to train the immune system to take over the role of antiretroviral therapy. That's the goal."

Bionor and Celgene plan to fund a Phase I/II study studying Vacc-4x with Revlimid to see if the cancer drug enhances the vaccine's efficacy.

- check out the Bionor release
- and read Bloomberg's coverage