An experimental vaccine to combat HIV is to be tested in the United States and Europe by the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. According to a report published by CNBC, the company has confirmed that the tests are to be conducted sometime later this year.
According to reports, various strains of the HIV virus would be targeted by the experimental J&J vaccine. The drug is a mosaic-based preventative immunization one.
The virus of HIV is present in approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. and 2 million people in Europe and these people continue to live with the virus in them. The HIV virus causes harm to the human body by attacking its immune system, thereby increasing the vulnerability of the infected individual to various diseases while reducing the ability of the body to fight the diseases as well. According to doctors, HIV infections can turn into AIDS if left untreated. AIDS is considered to be the last stage of HIV in which the immune systems of the human body are very badly damaged. According to HIV.gov, after being diagnosed, individual who have developed AIDS only stay live up to about three years on an average count.
A phase 2 clinical trial for the same HIV vaccine is being carried out by the company in Africa. The trials in Africa would involve the participation of 2,600 women in five southern African countries who would be administered the vaccine to immune them against the disease. J&J said that it would not be before 2021 that the initial results of the tests would be available to it for further examination.
Interestingly, J&J has decided to initiate the trials in the US even as President Donald Trump has publicly pledged to rid the United States of the HIV epidemic by 2030. This is a pledge and a goal that has been cheered by public health advocates in the country and they have been demanding such commitment for years.
The Trump administration etched out an agreement with the pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences according to which the pharma company would donate medications that reduce the risk of HIV transmission, in quantities that would be enough to administer it to 200,000 people a year. The company, which is the dominant leader in the $26 billion-a-year HIV drug market, would be making the donations every year till 2025.
For their once-a-month injection treatment for HIV, a new drug application with the FDA was filed by J&J and GlaxoSmithKline majority-owned ViiV Healthcare in late April.
A late-stage data was posted by the two companies in March which clearly showed that there was a positive impact of the shot as standard daily pills for controlling HIV.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)