GeoVax reports progress on HIV/AIDS vaccine

GeoVax Labs, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in the development of HIV/AIDS vaccines, announced the results of a study on Wednesday suggesting researchers could create a vaccine that protects against exposure to multiple HIV infections.

Harriet L. Robinson, the chief scientific officer at GeoVax Labs, made the announcement during a presentation at the 2012 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle. Robinson and her team tested a novel vaccine against HIV/AIDS for the ability to protect non-human primates against 36 exposures to simian immunodeficiency virus during the study.

"Repeated virus challenges in animals are used to mimic sexual transmission," Robinson said. "The hope is that the results in the non-human primate models will translate into vaccine-induced prevention of infection in humans."

The study showed an 87 percent per exposure vaccine efficacy against the first series of 12 weekly exposures to the SIVE660 virus. The rate dropped to 82 percent after a second series of exposures and rose to 84 percent in a third series of exposures. The last two series of exposures used the SIV251 virus. This is an unprecedented level of preclinical success for an HIV vaccine candidate in non-human primates.

"Excellent results like these give the industry hope that an effective HIV vaccine with long-lasting protection is not far from reality, and bolster our confidence that we are on the right track," Robert McNally, the CEO of GeoVax, said.

There have been approximately 55,000 new HIV infections per year in the United States since 1989.