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Collaboration on new therapeutic vaccine for HIV shows promise

Published on 10/11/16 at 09:30am

Janssen, part of Johnson & Johnson, released details on 9 November of the results of a new study looking into a new approach to combatting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). The study was a collaboration between researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), alongside scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), Janssen and Gilead Sciences.

The new study looked into the combination of a therapeutic vaccination alongside immune stimulation and whether this could achieve a “functional cure” for the HIV infection. The study was conducted using non-human primates that were infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), which is similar to HIV.

The treatment consisted of two investigational therapeutic vaccines (an adenovirus serotype 26 vector vaccine (Ad26) and an MVA vector vaccine (MVA)), and a TLR7, an investigational drug that operates on a protein of the immune system). These investigational therapies were administered alongside antiretroviral therapy.

The study operated for two years, with the results being positive for the combination of all therapies. The nine NHPs who received the investigational vaccine/TLR7 agonist combination showed decreased viral load, and the virus was undetectable in three of the NHPs when ART was stopped. When compared to control, researchers saw viral set point that was 100-fold lower and observed a 2.5-fold delay in viral rebound.

 “Although we have made great progress in developing treatments that allow people living with HIV to live near normal lifespans, patients today have to be on pills every single day of their life for their entire lives,” says Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson. “Our goal is to work across the entire continuum—to have a functional cure, which would keep patients’ virus under check without the life-long burden of being on treatments, and ultimately, to have a preventive vaccine that stops HIV in the first place.”

Janssen have begun a Phase I/IIa study to evaluate the safety of the Ad26/MVA vaccine regimen in patients that have begun ART during acute HIV infection.

Ben Hargreaves

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