New hope as trial of HIV vaccine begins

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a research agency in the United States, has announced the commencement of the first phase of trials for a preventive HIV vaccine candidate in both the United States and South Africa.

This trial, named HVTN 142, seeks to assess the safety of the VIR-1388 virus and its ability to elicit an HIV-specific immune response in the study participants.

VIR-1388 is designed to instruct the immune system to generate T cells capable of identifying HIV and triggering an immune reaction to prevent the virus from establishing a chronic infection.

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It employs a cytomegalovirus (CMV) vector, a weakened form of the virus that delivers the HIV vaccine material to the immune system without causing illness in the participants of the study.

The trial will include 95 HIV-negative participants who will be randomly assigned to one of four study groups: three groups will receive different doses of the vaccine, while one group will receive a placebo.

To ensure the safety of participants, the study will exclusively enroll individuals already living with asymptomatic CMV.

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Initial findings from the vaccine are expected in late 2024, with continued monitoring of other volunteers for up to three years following their initial vaccine dose.

This trial marks a significant advancement in the ongoing endeavors to develop an effective HIV vaccine, a longstanding objective in the realm of HIV research.

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