One of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies is taking new steps toward developing an HIV vaccine, Bloomberg reported Friday. Johnson & Johnson will begin testing the vaccine on 3,800 men later this year in Europe, South America and North America, including the US.
A potential cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, arrives every few years — including CRISPR gene-editing — but remains elusive. HIV prevention and treatment have come a long way since the AIDS epidemic struck in the 1980s. But according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 million people worldwide die from AIDS-related illnesses annually.
The new vaccine is a tetravalent mosaic. It's made up of four components designed to raise the body's immunity to defend against different strands of the virus. In animal trials, the tetravalent mosaic worked on two-thirds of animals tested and is so far considered safe for humans, Bloomberg reported.
Study participants will be men who have sex with men. They will receive six shots of the vaccine over four sessions. Results from the trials are expected in 2023.
Trials for a variation of the vaccine are already under way in Africa. Called the Imbokodo study, those trials include 2,600 women across five African countries. With both studies taking place at similar times, approval from government agencies could potentially come quicker.