VirxSys Corp. announces positive results for HIV vaccine

Researchers at the Maryland-based VirxSys Corporation have announced positive findings for their VRX1273 HIV vaccine at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogens, Treatments and Prevention in Rome.
The vaccine is a genetically altered version of the non-human primate version of HIV known as SIV. In the study, five infected monkeys were injected with the vaccine three times while five others were given a placebo vaccine. After 18 months, 40 percent of the vaccinated monkeys were found to have very low to undetectable amounts of virus in their bodies, reports.
“Although this pre-clinical study is modest in terms of size, it is highly unusual to see near non-detectable levels of the virus not only circulating in the blood, but also in the reservoirs where HIV is known to replicate,” Joep Lange, a professor of medicine at the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam, said, according to
The effects of the vaccine were sustained two years after the initial vaccination without any need for booster shots. A similar vaccine was effective in preventing monkeys from acquiring SIV in May by Dr. Louis Picker of the Oregon Health and Science University's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.
The leap from monkeys to humans can be a large step, however, as monkeys are not human and SIV is not HIV, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said, reports.
If the VRX1273 vaccine is found to be effective, it could be more cost effective than typical HIV drugs, which must be taken for the entire course of a patient's lifetime. This vaccine has the potential to be administered just several times, possibly only once.
Laurent Humeau, VirxSys' vice president of research and development, said that the company hopes to start clinical trials in humans in as soon as 18 months with approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.