Scientists make major breakthrough in HIV vaccine trial

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson believes it has made a major breakthrough in the global fight against the HIV pandemic.

During the company’s presentation at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science, delivered this month, revalations were made on the initial outcomes in its investigation on a possible HIV-1 vaccine regimen.

A report was given on the clinical data released during Phase 1/2a of this APPROACH in-human study. The early signs are that meaningful progress is being made. The studies are being conducted by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary JanssenGlobal.

“The ‘mosaic-based’ vaccine regimen from Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. (Janssen) appeared to be well-tolerated and elicited HIV-1 antibody responses in 100 percent of healthy volunteers,” said project collaborator Professor Dan Barouch.

Barouch, a Harvard Medical School Professor, is also the Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He told delegates at the conference that finding a preventative vaccine for HIV has been the single greatest challenge for the scientific community over the past four decades, adding that the developments in this study are the most exciting yet.

“A successful preventive vaccine for HIV will need to provide broad protection against a wide range of viral strains,” added Professor Barouch.

“These promising, early-stage results suggest that these vaccines utilizing mosaic immunogens should be evaluated further for their potential ability to achieve this historic goal,” he said.

The havoc that the HIV pandemic has caused on a global scale is well documented, and the urgency to find a viable and lasting solution has never been greater. It is among the greatest global challenges of our time, and scientists are now more convinced than ever that a vaccine will be developed in our lifetime.

Paul Stoffels is the Chief Scientific Officer and Johnson & Johnson. He could not hide his excitement at the progress that has been made in the APPROACH study.