University of Rochester testing new oral HIV vaccine

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are halfway through the study of an oral HIV vaccine, one designed to prevent HIV infection.

The University of Rochester in New York is the only center in the world testing this vaccine.

The new oral vaccine, administered in tablet form, has several advantages over other oral vaccines and especially those given by needle, Dr. John Treanor, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at University of Rochester Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital, recently told Vaccine News Daily. 

“The biggest advantage a tablet has over a needle is needle disposal,” Treanor, who is leading the study, said. “The risk of a health care professional being infected by the HIV virus is eliminated.”

He went on to explain this is especially useful to other countries that may not have sophisticated needle disposal procedures.

The study began last November and is slated to run through June. While it is too early to draw significant conclusions, Treanor said so far, there are no signs of negative side effects.

“Being an oral vaccine, our primary concern is gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting and stomach pain," Treanor said. "So far, there hasn’t been any. We didn’t think there would be, but it’s what we’re particularly on the lookout for.”

Treanor said it is too early to tell if the vaccine is creating any type of immune response.

The study, now in Phase I, currently has 11 patients with an about equal mix of men and women of differing races and ethnicities.

“We’ve got a pretty diverse population sample,” Treanor said, adding he hopes to have 24 patients taking part in the study before it ends this summer.

Another part of the study will be determining the correct dosage, before moving on to Phase II.

Phase II would shift to a different set of patients with the goal of testing the vaccine with the predetermined dosage. Researchers would see how patients respond to that dosage, if there are any side effects and how their immune system responds.

This is just step one of a very long process, Treanor said.

“Before even thinking of going to market with a vaccine like this one, you have to prove the vaccine works, and that it actually prevented HIV, and that’s a big enterprise," Treanor said. "This will not be a product that’ll be used in the real world for a long time.”

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University of Rochester Medical Center

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