Search for an HIV Vaccine Continues Despite Setbacks
A mood of deep pessimism has spread among the international community of AIDS scientists following last year's trial failure of a promising Merck vaccine. This was only the latest in a series of setbacks in the twenty-year struggle to develop an HIV vaccine.
"The passion for finding an HIV vaccine resonates strongly among small pharma, whose often-overlooked approaches may now take center stage as the search for a viable HIV vaccine continues," says Sylvain Fleury, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and Director at Mymetics, a vaccine company focused on malaria and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS).
Mymetics' approach is based on proprietary know-how and key intellectual property in matters of antigen engineering and vaccine design that have enabled the company to engineer an acknowledged vaccine candidate in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"The failures of the past twenty years provide greater understanding of this complex disease. Each advances vaccine design, which improves our knowledge and may benefit various research fields."
Current drug treatments in HIV focus on slowing or impeding the progress of the virus once it has infected the body's host cells. According to Dr. Fleury, for decades scientists have pursued vaccines that induce an immune protection during infection events that take place only after HIV transmission, meaning once the HIV has crossed the mucosal tissues and has already infected cells.
"Now, it is becoming more evident that acting on earlier transmission events might improve the chance of blocking or slowing down HIV transmission," says Dr. Fleury.
By pursuing and furthering a mucosa approach, Mymetics focuses on preventing early HIV entry into the organism during the first minutes or hours following exposure to the HIV virus, which may be the key to achieving a viable vaccine.
"The mucosa approach has not yet been widely explored," explains Dr. Fleury, "making Mymetics a pioneer in research that has so far shown very promising pre-clinical results."
The urgency for a vaccine that addresses HIV continues to be in the forefront. According to the World Health Organization, in 2007, about two million people died of AIDS globally, thirty-three million were living with HIV and 2.5 million people were newly infected with the virus. For more information, log onto www.mymetics.com.