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HIV: Johnson&Johnson trial failed, but all is not lost

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HIV: Johnson&Johnson trial failed, but all is not lost

2023 does not start under the best of auspices in the fight against HIV. The only one late-stage US trial for a vaccine has been halted because it didn’t lead to the desired results.

The news came Wednesday, released by the vaccine development department of the Johnson&Johnson.

Dozens of HIV vaccines have been tested and discarded in the past 10 years, and this latest failure – according to the researchers – could take us back about five years.

However, although the landscape seems blacker than ever, every failure is actually a discovery, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The news is certainly disappointing, but it is not the end of our efforts to develop an effective vaccine. We have many tricks up our sleeves, and new strategic approaches to test”.

Eg, a study called PrEPVacc in Africa is evaluating a combination of experimental vaccines and preventative prophylaxis. In fact, scientists have announced in recent months that they are ever closer to developing synthetic antibodies useful for neutralizing the virus.

And precisely on the basis of these antibodies, there are ongoing experiments for the conception of new vaccine technologies – including mRNA – against HIV.

Not to mention the extraordinary discoveries of the all-Italian experimentation, the TAT Protein – which, used in a possible vaccine, could interrupt the virus-host dynamic in the early stages of the infection.

Still, the loss of the last favorite candidate proves it how complex it is to find an opponent worthy of the virus.

Mosaico – started in 2019 – and led by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, was tested on 3900 transgender people and sexually active gay menand initially seemed to give good results.

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The name comes from mosaic of components useful for intervening on different subtypes of viruses present globally. But the immune response was not the one hoped for: the number of antibodies developed was not sufficient to neutralize the virus.

However, this first failure is not the end of the Mosaico approach, proven effective in other areas. New trials are already planned for the next few years, and efforts to develop an effective vaccine do not stop.

At the same time, activists encourage policy makers to engage more in prevention, making existing tools more accessible worldwide.

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