AIDS Vaccine Passed Phase 1 Clinical Trial in Humans

Dr. Chil-Yong Kang who developed theSAV001-H vaccine (Credit: Paul Mayne/Western University)
Are we finally going to see a successful vaccination against HIV/AIDS? a recent early clinical trial of a new drug by a company called Sumagen had shown some early promise that a real, safe human vaccination against this horrific disease might really be around the corner.
Despite progress with maintaining the lives of AIDS patients over the past two decades the disease is still spreading and has so far killed over 35 million people worldwide and it is estimated that there are almost the same number of people who are living with the virus. Since the HIV was discovered in 1983, there have been countless trials around the world of potential vaccines against the virus. Sadly, so far none of them proved to be successful.
So far  vaccine developers have been trying to use either one specific component of HIV as an antigen to protect the body from the virus: for example – a genetic vaccine using recombinant DNA or a recombinant viruses carrying HIV genes. However the newly developed vaccine is the first genetically modified killed whole virus vaccine meaning it is based on a full HIV virus which has been killed. Just like many successful previous vaccines including ones for polio, influenza, rabies and hepatitis A. 
The phase one clinical trials which are intended to test any side effects of the vaccine on a small group of patients ended in a success. The trial was initiated in March 2012 and completed in August 2013 and involved HIV-infected, asymptomatic men and women ages 18-50 who have enrolled into the study and randomized into two treatment groups to administer killed whole HIV-1 vaccine (SAV001-H) or placebo.
After 52 weeks of testing no serious adverse event was observed in any volunteer vaccinated. Although the effectiveness of the vaccine will be determined in the next two phases of the clinical trial, even on this early stage the antibody against p24 capsid antigen increased in the receiving patients as much as 64-fold in some vaccines and antibody against gp120 surface antigen increased up to eight-fold after vaccination. The increased antibody was maintained during the entire 52 week study period – a very promising result.
The new SAV001-H vaccine was developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry with the support of Sumagen Canada. You can read more about the vaccine on the Western University website as well as on the  Sumagen site.
In the past TFOT covered several HIV related stories including a Carnegie Mellon University research from 2007 which identified a way in which HIV penetrates white blood cells.