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EPIDEMICS
Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) July 24, 2017


Injectable AIDS drug may work 'as well' as pills: study
Paris (AFP) July 24, 2017 - A two-drug cocktail injected every month or two may be just as effective as a daily pill at keeping the AIDS virus under control, said a study Monday that promised relief for millions.

At present people have no option but to take lifelong, daily doses of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) which keeps the HIV virus under control, but does not kill it.

People who forget to take their medication run the risk of the virus rebounding to make them ill, or developing resistance to the drugs they were using -- which would require a more expensive replacement.

In an ongoing study, nearly 300 HIV-positive people were given an initial course of daily pills to bring the virus under control.

Once this was achieved, some continued taking oral treatment as maintenance while the rest were shifted onto the prototype, injectable ARV, administered every four or eight weeks.

At 96 weeks, the virus was still subdued in 84 percent of the pill-taking group, 87 percent in the four-weekly injectable group, and 94 percent in the eight-weekly group.

The results were published in The Lancet medical journal to coincide with an HIV science conference in Paris of the International AIDS Society.

In 2016, there were some 36.7 million people living with HIV of whom 19.5 million had access to ART, according to UNAIS.

The UN recommends ART for all HIV-positive people.

- 'Next revolution' -

"The introduction of single-tablet medication represented a leap forward in ART dosing, and long-active anti-retroviral injections may represent the next revolution in HIV therapy by providing an option that circumvents the burden of daily dosing," said study oc-author David Margo lis of Vi Iv Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company involved in developing the injectable drug.

"Adherence to medication remains an important challenge in HIV treatment."

Also involved in the study is Janssen Sciences, a company in the Johnson & Johnson group.

Last week, the UN warned that countries must halt the rise of AIDS drug resistance to prevent a swell in new infections and deaths and spiralling treatment costs.

Viruses can become resistant to drugs when people take incorrect doses of their prescribed medication. Resistant strains can also be contracted directly from other people.

Some in the trial group experienced mild or moderate pain at the injection site, two of whom two to stop getting the shots which contain a mix of cabotegravir and rilpivirine.

Other side-effects, including diarrhoea and headaches, were similar in all the groups.

"Trials are ongoing and are needed to confirm the results," the researchers said a statement.

The experiments were conducted in the United States, Germany, Canada, Spain, France and Germany.

The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

Tested in 393 people in the United States, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa and Thailand, the drug "raised antibody responses in 100 percent of vaccine recipients," Dan Barouch, a member of the research team, said in Paris.

"These promising... data, together with advances from many other investigators in the field, support a new sense of optimism that development of an HIV vaccine might in fact be possible," he told journalists at an HIV science conference organised by the International AIDS Society (IAS).

A vaccine is widely considered the best way of ending an epidemic that has seen 76.1 million people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, since the early 1980s.

Some 35 million have died.

Last year alone, 1.8 million people around the world were newly infected, according to UNAIDS, and there were 36.7 million people living with the virus.

Of those, 19.5 million had access to virus-suppressing anti-retroviral treatment (ART).

"The ultimate control of the worldwide HIV epidemic will likely require the development of a safe and effective vaccine," said Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts.

"But to date, only four vaccine concepts have been tested for clinical efficacy in the 35-year history of the epidemic."

The team hopes their prototype will get approval for the next trial phase.

The vaccine uses a common cold virus to deliver antigens -- foreign substances that induce the recipient's immune system to produce intruder-fighting antibodies. The vaccine is boosted with a protein that raises antibody levels.

- 'Important news' -

In an earlier trial, the prototype prevented infection in 66 percent of rhesus lab monkeys, said Barouch.

In humans, it has now been shown to be safe and to generate an immune response.

"Of course, we don't know yet whether this vaccine will protect humans," the researcher said.

"However, these data to date support the advancement of this vaccine candidate into a larger... efficacy trial, which we hope will start before the end of this calendar year."

That will depend on additional data to be gathered in the coming months.

IAS president Linda-Gail Bekker described the results as "important news".

Condoms are still at the frontline of efforts to prevent infection -- mainly through sex and blood contact.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Maryland, told AFP that developing a vaccine was "going to be very difficult" but "would be really a game changer".

"If in fact we get a very moderately-effective, a 50-60 percent effective vaccine, that will go a long way when you combine it together with other prevention modalities... to really having a major impact on the pandemic," he said ahead of the conference.

Another vaccine candidate, dubbed HVTN 702, is being tested in a major clinical trial in South Africa.

EPIDEMICS
S.African girl, 9, is third child with HIV remission: study
Paris (AFP) July 24, 2017
A South African girl has become only the third child to beat the AIDS virus into long-term remission - almost nine years and counting - after receiving a drug cocktail in infancy, researchers announced Monday. The child was given a ten-month course of anti-AIDS medicine until she was one year old, then taken off the drugs as part of a medical trial. Eight years and nine months later, t ... read more

Related Links
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola


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