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July 6, 2021

Oxford University begins Phase I trial of HIV vaccine

The trial is analysing the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine, with results anticipated next year.

The University of Oxford has started inoculations in Phase I clinical trial assessing a new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine candidate, HIVconsvX, in the UK.

HIVconsvX is a mosaic vaccine designed to act on a variety of HIV-1 variants. This capability will potentially enable the use of the vaccine against HIV strains in all geographical regions.

Named HIV-CORE 0052, the Phase I trial is testing the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine under the European Aids Vaccine Initiative, which is funded by the European Commission.

During the trial, 13 healthy, HIV-negative individuals aged 18 to 65 years who are not at high risk of HIV infection, will be administered one HIVconsvX dose and then a booster dose at four weeks.

University of Oxford Jenner Institute vaccine immunology professor and trial lead researcher Tomáš Hanke said: “An effective HIV vaccine has been elusive for 40 years. This trial is the first in a series of evaluations of this novel vaccine strategy in both HIV-negative individuals for prevention and in people living with HIV for a cure.”

A majority of HIV vaccine candidates stimulate antibodies produced by B-cells.

But the new HIVconsvX vaccine triggers the immune system’s T cells, which are potent and destroy pathogens. It directs the T cells onto highly conserved and susceptible regions of HIV.

Adopting the antibody, as well as T cell arms of the immune system, is critical for protection against HIV, according to the trial’s chief investigator and Jenner Institute senior clinical research fellow Dr Paola Cicconi.

The current HIV prevention strategy involves behavioural and biomedical interventions, including anti-retroviral drugs taken before exposure.

Hanke noted that despite improved anti-retroviral therapy and prevention, an HIV-1 vaccine is the best solution that could help stop the AIDS epidemic.

Results from the Phase I HIV-CORE 0052 trial are expected to be available in April 2022.

The researchers also intend to further study their HIV vaccine candidate in trials across Europe, Africa and the US.

Last month, the university added ivermectin to its Platform Randomised Trial of Treatments in the Community for Epidemic and Pandemic Illnesses (PRINCIPLE) study for the treatment of Covid-19.

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