New HIV vaccine trial starts at University of Oxford

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Researchers at the University of Oxford have started a clinical trial for a novel HIV vaccine candidate.

The goal of the trial, known as HIV-Core 0052, is to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the HIVconsvX vaccine.

The mosaic vaccine targets a broad range of HIV-1 variants, making it potentially applicable for HIV strains in any geographical region.

Oxford started vaccinations of the novel HIV vaccine candidate as part of a Phase 1 clinical trial in the UK.

Thirteen healthy, HIV-negative adults, aged 18-65 and considered not to be at high risk of infection, will initially receive one dose of the jab followed by a further booster dose after four weeks.

Professor Tomas Hanke, professor of vaccine immunology at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, and lead researcher on the trial, 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 cure.”

While most HIV vaccine candidates work by inducing antibodies generated by B-cells, HIVconsvX induces the immune system’s T cells, targeting them to highly conserved and therefore vulnerable regions of HIV – an Achilles heel common to most HIV variants.

The trial is part of the European Aids Vaccine Initiative (EAVI2020), an internationally collaborative research project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 health programme for research and innovation.

Researchers hope to be able to report results of the trial by April next year.