The scientific community won’t be bogged down after the initial failure of an experimental HIV vaccine developed by the U.S. laboratory Merck & Co. Inc. Monday, the first phase of testing from a South African vaccine research was launched.
Thirty-six South African volunteers will be recruited to participate in clinical tests for the first vaccine developed by African researchers, from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. These new tests come after a previous experiment conducted between 2008 and 2009, involving twelve people in the United States and South Africa, failed to produce required results.
Testing will be conducted in hospitals in Cape Town (Emavundleni Center, Crossroads) and Soweto (Perinatal HIV Research Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital).
The launch of Phase I, announced Monday, by the South African Council for Medical Research (South African Medical Research Council - MRC), seeks to ascertain that the vaccine is safe for human use and also to measure the level of response from the immune system. The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) in collaboration with the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) from the MRC will conduct the testing.
South African scientists behind the research
Named SAAVI DNA-C2 and SAAVI Mva-C, the test vaccines do not contain any HIV strain. In fact, they were designed to tackle the type C virus or Clade C , most common in South Africa. During the clinical trial, called SAAVI 102/HVTN 073, the 36 volunteers are expected to receive either a placebo or the experimental vaccine cocktail, randomly and confidentially. Although the two test drugs are results of South African research, the MVA was manufactured in the United States, while the DNA was locally produced in South Africa.
South Africans who will be selected to participate in the tests must be between the ages of 18 and 45 as well as testing HIV negative. They are also to abstain from risk behaviours that could expose them to the AIDS virus.
This is the second time South Africa is testing an HIV vaccine. MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag / pol / nef, a drug developed by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. Inc., was used during the first trial.
After eight years of research, the SAAVI DNA-C2 and SAAVI MVA-C vaccines have fostered renewed hope against the astronomical spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, where ingenious and hardworking scientists are no match for scornful politicians. HIV/AIDS affects more than five million people in the southern African nation.
If Phase I is successful, it will be followed by Phases II and III which will lead, if successful, to the certification and manufacture of a vaccine dirested against the scourge of the century. This feat, if achieved, will be attributed to Africa, a continent widely accused as being the author of HIV.