The first human trials for the new HIV injectible vaccine are under way, containing a specific protein which will target the most virulent strain of the virus.
Researchers from the Imperial College London, the Hull York Medical School, the Medical Research Council clinical trial unit and the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) have come together to evaluate the anti-HIV shot.
The virus' most virulent strain Clade C has caused the greatest number of HIV infections globally, infecting half of the 34 million people carrying the virus. It is the most prevalent strain in sub-Saharan Africa, according to an Imperial College statement.
Clade C strain is also predominant in India, China and South America. Vaccine candidates relevant to the sub-Saharan epidemic are critically important to prevent large-scale HIV infection in the fight against the global HIV epidemic.
The anti-HIV shot contains trimeric HIV envelope protein (gp140) relevant to Clade C strain. If it does prove to be safe, and brings on immunity, it could be considered for further testing and evaluated for its effectiveness in protecting women against HIV.
The trial has enrolled 36 healthy, HIV-negative women aged 18-45 years at St George's University of London and the HYMS Experimental Medicine Unit at York Hospital.
"Our collaboration marks an important juncture for the field as we begin to assess which routes of immunisation may provide the best responses to protect women," said Robin Shattock, professor of immunology at Imperial College, and who leads the consortium which developed the trial.