A First-of-Its-Kind HIV Vaccine Will Move to Phase II Trials in 2017
This is progress.
By Fiona MacDonald

A brand new type of HIV vaccine will move onto phase II clinical trials in 2017, after phase I trials showed that it was safe to use in humans.

The potential new vaccine will be tested on 600 people in North America, to see how well it can prevent them from getting the virus.

Before we get too excited, the phase I trials were only set up to show that the vaccine was tolerated well by the human body - they didn’t demonstrate if it actually works as a preventative treatment.

But the team saw promising results, with the vaccine triggering an immune response in the HIV-positive patients it was tested on.

“We were very excited with the phase I results,” said team leader Chil-Yong Kang, from Western University in Canada.

“The trial demonstrated that our vaccine stimulates broadly neutralising antibodies that will neutralise not only single sub-types of HIV, but other sub-types, which means that you can have the vaccine cover many different strains of the virus.”

The results of that trial have been published this week in the journal Retrovirology, and the researchers have announced that they’ve received regulatory approval to take the vaccine development to the next level as early as September next year.

Continue Reading.

funny story

when I was around 11 years old, the school was making us get vaccine shots for something, i dont remember but i missed one of the days to get the shot at school so I had to go to a clinic to get it myself.

so while i was at the clinic with other random people here to get their own shots for whatever, I walked up to this nurse in the middle of the room. now at this time, i didnt really pay attention to the type of vaccine i needed to get. So imagine, a 11 year old going to a nurse in the middle of a crowded clinic, asking,



the entire room just bursted out laughing at my 11 year old self and i didn’t know why until i remembered this moment like last year


Seeking Justice Through Vaccines, These Famous Artists Are Standing Up For Change

Beloved portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz often captures celebrity subjects before her noted lens, having snapped cultural icons ranging from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Her most recent photograph, however, depicts a different sort of notable figures, those linked to the development of several life-saving vaccines.

(Source: Katharine Dowson A Window to the Future of an HIV Vaccine)


Vaccine ‘clears HIV-like virus’ in monkeys

By Rebecca MorelleScience reporter, BBC World Service


A vaccine for the monkey equivalent of HIV appears to eradicate the virus, a study suggests.

Research published in the journal Nature has shown that vaccinated monkeys can clear Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) infection from their bodies.

It was effective in nine of the 16 monkeys that were inoculated.

The US scientists say they now want to use a similar approach to test a vaccine for HIV in humans.

Prof Louis Picker, from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, said: “It’s always tough to claim eradication - there could always be a cell which we didn’t analyse that has the virus in it. But for the most part, with very stringent criteria… there was no virus left in the body of these monkeys.”

Search and destroy

The research team looked at an aggressive form of virus called SIVmac239, which is up to 100 times more deadly than HIV.

Infected monkeys usually die within two years, but in some inoculated primates the virus did not take hold.

It maintains an armed force, that patrols all the tissues of the body, all the time, indefinitely”

Prof Louis PickerOregon Health and Science University

The vaccine is based on another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which belongs to the herpes family.

It used the infectious power of CMV to sweep throughout the body. But instead of causing disease, it has been modified to spur the immune system into action to fight off the SIV molecules.

“It maintains an armed force, that patrols all the tissues of the body, all the time, indefinitely,” explained Prof Picker.

The researchers gave rhesus macaque monkeys the vaccine, and then exposed them to SIV.

They found that at first the infection began to establish and spread. But then the monkeys’ bodies started to respond, searching out and destroying all signs of the virus.

Of the monkeys that successfully responded to the vaccine, they were still clear of infection between one-and-a-half and three years later.

Prof Picker said his team was still trying to work out why the vaccination worked in only about half of the monkeys.

“It could be the fact that SIV is so pathogenic that this is the best you are ever going to get.

"There is a battle going on, and half the time the vaccine wins and half the time it doesn’t,” he said.

Human trials

The researchers are now testing the vaccine to see if it can be used after SIV exposure to treat and potentially cure infected monkeys.

They also want to see if the technique could work in humans.

Prof Picker said: “In order to make a human version we have to make sure it is absolutely safe.

"We have now engineered a CMV virus which generates the same immune response but has been attenuated [modified to lose its virulence] to the point where we think it is unequivocally safe.”

This would first have to pass through the regulatory authorities, but if it does, he said he hoped to start the first clinical trials in humans in the next two years.

Commenting on the research, Dr Andrew Freedman, from Cardiff University School of Medicine, said: “This suggests that prophylactic vaccines - vaccines designed to prevent infection - using CMV vectors may be a promising approach for HIV.

"While they may not prevent the initial infection, they might lead to subsequent clearance, rather than the establishment of chronic infection.”


Huge HIV/AIDS treatment news: A new molecule (called eCD4-lg) effectively blocked a simian version of HIV from attaching to immune cells, and may work as both a long-acting treatment and a vaccine for HIV in humans.

“Our molecule appears to be the most potent and broadest inhibitor of HIV entry so far described in a preclinical study” said study lead Dr. Michael Farzan.

(photo and story via The New York Times. Synopsis via

New AIDS drug shields monkeys: study

External image

Scientists said Wednesday a new drug tested on monkeys provided an astonishingly effective shield against an animal version of the AIDS virus, a major gain in the quest for an HIV vaccine. Macaque monkeys given the drug were able to fend off high repeated doses of the simian version of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), they reported in the journal Nature. “We… show a way to achieve long-lived, effective, vaccine-like protection from HIV 1,” the main group of viral strains in humans, said study leader Michael Farzan, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida. The prototype drug, called eCD4-Ig, comprises two imitations of the receptors, or docking points, where HIV latches on to CD4 cells – the key defences of the immune cells.


HIV Vaccine Causes HIV 

“A new study shows that an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck actually increased the risk of contracting HIV infection in recipients. This is just another case of vaccines actually bringing on the disease they’re meant to cure.“

Newly Discovered HIV Genome Modification May Put a Twist on Vaccine and Drug Design
Crucial HIV RNA modification called m6A influences viral replication, but wasn’t previously taken into consideration when developing anti-HIV therapies

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that HIV infection of human immune cells triggers a massive increase in methylation, a chemical modification, to both human and viral RNA, aiding replication of the virus. The study, published February 22, 2016 in Nature Microbiology, identifies a new mechanism for controlling HIV replication and its interaction with the host immune system.

“We and other colleagues at pharmaceutical companies have worked over the years to develop drugs targeting HIV’s genetic material, its RNA, but we never made it to the clinic,” said senior author Tariq Rana, PhD, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Now we know why — we were developing drugs using RNA targets that didn’t have these modifications, when in reality the RNA was different.”

In human cells, RNA is the genetic material that carries instructions from the DNA in a cell’s nucleus out to the cytoplasm, where molecular machinery uses those instructions to build proteins. In contrast, HIV’s entire genome is made up of RNA, not DNA. The virus hijacks its host’s cellular machinery to translate its RNA to proteins.

Pictured: HIV infrected cells courtesy of NCMIR.

Keep reading


Newly discovered “teenage” anti-body could mean knocking out HIV for good

An HIV vaccine could finally be on its way, thanks to the discovery of an immature antibody. Researchers discovered an odd antibody in a Chinese patient whose immune system could fight against the virus. The antibody looked a lot like the well-known VRC01 antibody, known to “broadly neutralize” HIV but it wasn’t fully developed, so the researchers called it a “teenage” antibody. How it could be “important for developing a universal HIV vaccine.“

Follow @the-future-now


Hello, everyone.

I am so proud to be on the cover of The Scientist for their May issue: Chipping Away at HIV. Lisa Modica (AD) and I considered the progress being made in identifying HIV reservoirs in the body. We also focused on HIV vaccine progress. Overall, we wanted the image to evoke how scientists are working hard at figuring out how to target and eliminate HIV – and the accumulation of these efforts are in sight. Thank you for another fantastic collaboration AD Lisa Modica!

- Molly

Prototype HIV vaccine is 90% successful

External image

In the experiment, scientists injected the vaccine in 24 of 30 HIV-free human volunteers. Six volunteers were treated with a placebo vaccine—they didn’t experience any effect. But 90% of the treated subjects developed a very strong immunological response against the HIV virus. 85% kept the immunological reaction for at least one year, which is really good news.

The AIDS pandemic, with its spectacular scientific advances, demonstrates how public health measures that take into account social, moral, and economic considerations remain a mainstay of public health activities. AIDS is an epidemic where the remarkable advances of biomedicine have been moderated with policies that take the social context of a vulnerable environment into account…Even if a cure, vaccine, or both were available today, the moral, social, and economic facets that have accompanied the pandemic to date would endure.

Powel Kazanjian, “The AIDS Pandemic in Historic Perspective”

18 May is World AIDS Vaccine Day, and we’ve put together a list of a few articles about the social history of HIV and AIDS: