A potential HIV vaccine is headed back to clinical trials to see if it can work even better by adding non-infectious, virus-like particles to a person’s immune system, particles that then help recognize and repel HIV if the person is later exposed to it. GeoVax Labs, Inc. filed an Investigational New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the HIV vaccine and clinical trials (dubbed HVTN 114), conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, begin this fall.
The new trial follows an earlier phase two trial (HVTN 205) for GeoVax’s GOV-B11 vaccine, and it will test whether adding a booster later would increase the vaccine’s antibody responses, thus making it more effective at defending against HIV. The boosting agent will be the GeoVax MVA62B vaccine with or without a gp120 protein vaccine. In earlier studies, gp120 has been shown to increase the bond between the body’s immune response antibodies and HIV-1 antigens, which could increase the efficiency of the virus-fighting antibodies.
“HVTN 114 represents the first clinical study of the effect of late boosts,” said GeoVax’s chief scientific officer, Harriet L. Robinson. “The protein boost, AIDSVAX B/E, is the same protein used to boost immune responses in the partially successful RV144 trial in Thailand.” That Thailand trial was the first vaccine trial to show promise.
GeoVax also recently received a $294,038 grant to continue research on a vaccine developed specifically for the needs of Sub-Saharan Africans, who are the most impacted by the ongoing HIV epidemic. (To sign up for the trials, visit the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which conducts most of the HIV vaccine trials worldwide, at HVTN.org.