Austin, Texas-based company Tekton Research is calling for volunteers in a clinical trial for an HIV vaccine, according to Time Warner News. The company is looking for healthy, HIV-negative participants between the ages of 18 and 50 for the clinical trial scheduled to run for two years. Gender and race do not matter.
Participants will not be exposed to HIV. Instead, the vaccine on trial contains genetic material extracted from the virus. Researchers hope that this material will stimulate a response in immune system to fight the virus.
"But these are just a few of the proteins, not the entire virus," Dr. Gregg Lucksinger, medical director at Tekton Research, told TWN. "But it's enough to stimulate the immune system and make it think 'oh wow there's soemthing going on in these cells, they're infected and we need to mount an immune response' and that's what triggers the body to make the immune resonse that we hope is protective."
Particpants in the study will be given four injections and have their immune systems monitored, according to NBC affiliate KXAN. If these trials go well, a larger study may be conducted.
The search for an HIV vaccine is an ongoing challenge for researchers. Since the identification of the virus in 1984, dozens of vaccines have been tested without success. The difficulty of finding a vaccine lies in HIV's ability to mutate as it spreads. A person can be infected and within a matter of weeks have multiple versions of the virus, making it difficult for the immune system to respond and control the infection.
Since the '80s, advances in HIV treatment have greatly increased the quality of life for positive people, and the use of PEP and PrEP aid in reducing the number of infections. However, about 40 million people worldwide live with HIV, and outside of wealthy countries, treatment can be diffiuclt to come by.