A new vaccine from Cuba aimed at reducing the viral load of patients with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is beginning phase one of clinical trials. The vaccine is believed to improve the quality of life of HIV patients.
Yayri Caridad Prieto Correa, a researcher at Havana’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) told the Cuban News Agency that the results from trials with the first nine patients did not display any adverse effects or toxicity. This is the main objective of phase one testing. After pre-clinical testing in laboratory animals and then in trials with the small group of patients, it has demonstrated the immune response of the organism is enhanced with the use of TERAVAC-VIH.
The researcher has stated this is a multi-year project and will take time. The project will include more tests with a greater number of seropositives whereby large-scale and comprehensive efficacy will be determined.
What is important, she stressed, is that the country’s scientific research institutions, and especially the CIGB, should continue the search for vaccine candidates against HIV as a top priority, although prevention is still the main method of prevention against infection.
The target is to replace the current tripartite therapy, combining several methods that prevent the HIV infection, highly effective because the retroviral inhibitors block the spread of the virus. However, these inhibitors can cause collateral damage and create the necessity to suspend treatment.
The proposal was presented by Prieto Correa and the researchers at the first Congress BioProcess 2017, which took place in Camaguey.
Although the vaccine shows signs of efficacy, she clarified that it does not cure the disease. Its administration is carried out simultaneously through the mucosal route with the use of spray and intramuscular vaccination. Preliminarily testing has demonstrated that it diminishes the viral load in the CD8 cells.
Mother-to-child transmission was first eliminated in Cuba 31 years ago. Cuba is the first country globally to eliminate the transmission of HIV and Syphilis between mother and child. Cuba was recognized as a leader in HIV prevention by the World Health Organization (WHO). Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, said it was “one of the greatest public health achievements possible” and an important step towards an AIDs-free generation.
News sourced from: ACN
Author: Zoe Veraz
Zoe is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Cuba Business Report.