Johnson & Johnson is preparing to test out a new kind of HIV vaccine that will target many strains of HIV, which will happen later this year in both Europe and the United States.
The goal, J&J said, is to eradicate a disease that has killed over 35 million people since it was first reported in 1981.
The innovative study will include about 3,800 gay and bisexual men. According to U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, the participants will get six shots over four sessions.
The vaccine will be an approach to immunizing against AIDS, with the hopes it will attack the various virus strains around the world. Scientists from around the world have been aggravated by the lack of progress in treating and/or curing the virus.
However, it was Harvard Medical School Professor Dan Barouch’s research that was key in the development of the J&J vaccine. He said the approach brings the world even closer to curing the different strains. He said it’s great, for both the medical and world public health, to have a vaccine that can work in many areas of the world.
Prior vaccine attempts were focused on a single strain.
Barouch, for 15 years, has worked tirelessly on ways to address the virus’ multiple strains. With the assistance of computational biologist Bette Korber, they came up with a set of mosaic proteins that could increase the immune defense against the strains.
Back in May, the company said it enrolled 2,600 women between the ages of 18 and 35 in five southern African countries where there is a high rate of HIV infection among the group, for a similar vaccine prevention study.
There is just one method known to help with the decrease in HIV infection spread, and that’s PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, which could possibly end the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, it’s a need-to-take daily medication. Due to the high cost – what many see as corporate greed on the drugmakers’ part, this is slow to happen.
J&J Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said the cost of treating these patients is a burden on society and the patients are high, and preventing HIV is a huge job to undertake – something the company has been working on for close to 30 years.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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