Scientists said they were hopeful that a vaccination against the HIV could be in sight after trials on human and animals showed ‘promising’ results. According to a new study published in ‘The Lancet’, tests on a new drug stopped two thirds of monkeys contracting a virus similar to HIV and boosted an anti-HIV immune system response in 400 healthy adults.
“The mosaic vaccine combination that showed the most promise in humans was found to protect 67 per cent of the 72 monkeys in the animal trial from getting the disease,” the ‘Metro’ reported. Although, the promising study has raised hope that the vaccine could have the potential to protect people around the world from the threat of HIV, the scientists leading the study described the research as an ‘important milestone,’ considering that just four HIV vaccines have so far been tested on humans. Despite advances in treatment for HIV, a cure or vaccine against the virus has never been found.
In 2016, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV (including 1.8 million children) – with a global HIV prevalence of 0.8 per cent among adults. Around 30 per cent of these same people did not know that they had the virus.
Nigeria currently ranks the second largest country with HIV epidemic in the world, with 3.4 million people living with the virus. Similarly, Nigeria has the highest cases of HIV-positive children in the world. However, more tests will now need to take place to determine if the immune response produced can prevent HIV infection in people. In the new study, scientists tested various combinations of the mosaic vaccine in people aged 18 to 50, who did not have HIV and were healthy.
The participants, from the United States (US), Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and Thailand, received four vaccinations over the course of 48 weeks. All of the vaccine combinations produced an anti-HIV immune system response and were found to be safe, according to the report. The scientists will now carry out a subsequent trial on 2,600 women believed to be at risk of HIV in southern Africa, with results expected around 2021.