Trials of a new HIV vaccine have begun at Oxford University, building on the success of the Covid vaccine developed by the institution.
It is the first in a series of evaluations in HIV-negative individuals, for prevention, and in people living with HIV, for a cure.In phase one of the trial, which is run by the university’s Jenner institute, 13 HIV-negative adults, aged 18-65 and who are considered not to be at high risk of infection, will initially receive one dose of the HIV vaccine. A further booster dose will be given after four weeks.
HIV-positive adults will be involved in later phases of the trial, while plans exist to start similar trials in Europe, Africa and the US.
The trial is part of the European Aids Vaccine Initiative, an internationally collaborative research project funded by the European Commission.
At present, prevention of HIV largely focuses on behavioural and biomedical interventions, such as voluntary medical male circumcision, condom use, and anti-retroviral drugs used prior to exposure.
Oxford University said its vaccine candidate would be the “best solution” to ending the Aids epidemic.
Professor Tomáš Hanke, Professor of Vaccine Immunology at the Jenner Institute , and lead researcher on the trial said: “The pace of decline in new HIV infections failed to reach the fast-track target agreed upon by the United Nations General Assembly in 2016: fewer than 500,000 new infections per year in 2020.
“Even in the broader context of increasing antiretroviral treatment and prevention, an HIV-1 vaccine remains the best solution and likely a key component to any strategy ending the AIDS epidemic.”
Dr Paola Cicconi, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Jenner Institute and the trial Chief Investigator, said: “Achieving protection against HIV is extremely challenging and it is important that we harness the protective potential of both the antibody and T cell arms of the immune system.”
The researchers hope to report results of the by April 2022.