HEALTH

HIV Vaccine On The Horizon?

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HIV Vaccine On The Horizon?

Scientists hold out hope in the fight to protect people from HIV-1, the most widespread type of the virus and the one that causes the most disease globally.

CNN reports that a new vaccine appears to be safe and induced an immune response in humans and rhesus monkeys in an early stage trial, according to new research published Friday in the journal The Lancet.

That means it's safe enough to go into the next phase of testing, which involves a larger number of humans. It's one of only five experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have gotten this far during the 35 years of the HIV pandemic.

With 1.8 million new cases of human immunodeficiency virus every year, according to United Nations estimates, and almost 37 million people living with HIV worldwide, the quest for a vaccine has been urgent – and extremely difficult.

Scientists use these initial phases of clinical trials to determine the best dosage to use and to see whether a vaccine is safe.

The new vaccine was tested in 393 healthy people considered at low risk for infection and 72 rhesus monkeys. The human trial participants came from 12 clinics in South Africa, east Africa, Thailand and the United States.

In addition to being well-tolerated by all the test subjects and inducing an immune response against HIV in humans, the vaccine provided 67 percent protection against infection from the simian-human immunodeficiency virus in the rhesus monkeys. It's unclear whether it would provide protection in humans.