Cuba begins Phase 1 testing of HIV vaccine

pharmafile | February 27, 2017 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Cuba, HIV 

Cuba has announced that it has begun testing a HIV vaccine that looks to reduce the ‘payload’ of the virus within the patients. The study will examine a small number of patients to determine the safety of the vaccine.

Previous pre-clinical trials in animals and small studies involving humans have found that the vaccine boosted the immune response to the virus whilst not displaying any adverse effects of toxicity. The previous study in humans only involved nine patients but was able to reduce the levels of HIV virus in the patient’s blood.

The vaccine is able to be administered nasally, orally and can be delivered through a spray and injection. The vaccine improves the immune response by the use of TERAVAC-VIH.

Those involved in the research were keen to stress that it is not a cure – it will only reduce the payload as opposed to a complete removal of the virus. The process, currently at Phase 1, could also take a long time to reach widespread use, with researchers stating that it will be a multi-year process.

However, it builds on Cuba’s leading work in the field. It was recognised by the World Health Organisation as the first country to eradicate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This was achieved through comprehensive prenatal care for mother, which included testing for HIV and syphilis, in the struggle to reduce the incidence of both illnesses. It resulted in only 2 children being born with HIV in 2013 and only 5 born with syphilis.

The goal for the vaccine is to replace the current method of treatment, which is the tripartite therapy. The potential benefits over the current method could be the lack of toxicity displayed in early trials of the vaccine.

Ben Hargreaves

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