HIV/Aids

Updated 02 November 2015

Two promising new HIV vaccines tested in SA

As part of the international HIV Vaccine Trials Network, two new vaccines are being tested in clinical trials in South Africa.

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In South Africa, the HIV pandemic is being tackled with new fervour – with two new vaccines that work in different ways being tested here. 

This may lead to the first vaccine licence ever awarded to South Africa.

Local and overseas scientists involved

Prof Linda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council and Dr Larry Corey from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in the USA made the announcement in Cape Town on Monday.    

The clinical tests form part of the international HIV Vaccine Trials Network, costing about $100 000 million and supported by various organisations and institutions. Scores of local and overseas scientists are involved in the process.  

Read: Promising HIV trial fails

In the first clinical trial which has already started, researchers adapted a vaccine that was tested in Thailand to South Africa’s HIV strain.  

A substance that strengthens the effect of the vaccine on the body was also added.

The first group of 252 people in South Africa are already involved in the study and will receive eight vaccinations during a period of one-and-a-half years.

Yearly booster injection

In the Thai study, the efficiency of the vaccine was reduced to 31.2% after three-and-a-half years. After a year it was still 60% effective.  

Gray explained that they will administer a booster vaccine within a year to make it more effective.

If the results show promise, we will involve 5,000 people next year and “we hope to have the results by 2020. It will be the outcome of work started here already in 2009,” she said.    

This vaccine (RV144) works in the same way as all other vaccines: The body has to manufacture antibodies to attack the pathogen. It appears that in the case of HIV it might be necessary to administer a yearly booster injection because of decreasing immunity.  

Read: Antibody

The second vaccine will involve 3,900 people in America, South America and Africa South of the Sahara. This will include clinical areas across South Africa. These tests will start in January. “We are optimistic that it will work, but one must never underestimate a virus,” Corey said.  

The results of this study will be available by the end of 2018.  

Read more: 

SA discovery may lead to protective HIV vaccine

Experimental Aids vaccine targets hidden virus

Gates Foundation awards $25 million to HIV vaccine

Article translated from Netwerk24


 

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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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