Spanish researchers and UK scientists are currently preparing for the clinical trials of a possible vaccine and cure against AIDS-causing HIV.
Spanish experts believe the vaccine will be therapeutic while UK scientists are incorporating a drug to reactivate dormant viral residues.
Researchers at Spanish Hospital have announced the upcoming clinical trials set for 2014 as therapeutic vaccines for HIV patients stressing the new drug is designed to treat the disease instead of preventing it.
Clinical trials will be conducted as part of the four-year undergoing research project carried by other centers in Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.
"The goal is to achieve a functional cure of HIV. This would mean that we are able to control HIV in infected people without having to provide them with antiretroviral treatment their whole lives," Josep Maria Gatell, director of the Hospital Clinic Infectious Disease unit in Barcelona, said as quoted in Mail and Guardian.
The therapeutic vaccine project has been funded by the European Union's Executive European Commission with $8.2 million aimed to continue development of an updated version of January 2013 vaccine from the same research team.
The vaccine was tested on 36 HIV positive patients and found safe for humans with dramatic result of HIV viral load drops in some patients. However, the vaccine lost its effectiveness after returning to their regular ART drug combinations.
Researchers already performed tests of the updated vaccine on animals. Results are expected by the first half of 2014. Clinical human trials will commence in 2015 at the Hospital Clinic after carrying out toxicity tests on patients in 2014. If the vaccine passes the phase, clinical tests for effectiveness will be carried out in 40 patients in 2016 or 2017.
UK HIV Cure Developments
Scientists and clinicians from five leading British universities join forces to begin clinical trials of a "groundbreaking" functional cure against HIV infection.
The UK researchers' new therapy combines standard antiretroviral drugs with additional two new armaments: a drug which reactivates dormant HIV and vaccine that induces immune response to destroy infected cells.
"We know that targeting the HIV reservoir is extremely difficult but our research in the labs has led to some very promising results. We now have the opportunity to translate that into a possible new treatment which we hope will be of real benefit to patients," according to Dr. Sarah Filder of Imperial College in London, quoted by ZimEye.
The new drug will feature HDAC inhibitors which are used in cancer treatments but can reactivate dormant HIV in laboratory setting. One group of patients will be given a short course on HDAC inhibitors and an HIV vaccine with ART drugs. Another group will receive Art with placebos to compare test results.
"We can only truly know if someone is cured of HIV if we stop giving them antiretroviral therapy. We're not going to do that but we will test if we can reduce the number of HIV-infected cells in these patients. If we can, it will provide in principle that this strategy could work as a cure even though it will need many more years of further development," Dr. John Frater of Oxford University said.
Development of a functional HIV cure or vaccine is growing as the virus goes rampant worldwide. This puts pressures on medical experts to do it fast as mutation can occur anytime that may shield HIV against current drug treatments.