A vaccine for HIV/AIDS developed in Canada is at the human testing stage after passing safety tests in animals. Researchers are now waiting for the United States to approve the human trials.
“It is a very important milestone for us,” said Yong Kang, a professor of microbiology at the University of Western Ontario in London who has been working on the vaccine for 20 years.
According to Yong Kang this vaccine has the potential of saving millions of lives. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people and more than 40 million people are living with the virus since it was first discovered in 1981.
Canadians for Health Research reports:
“We created a genetically modified HIV and recombinant human adenoviruses to develop a vaccine which can prevent HIV infection and clear HIV-infected cells. It can produce antibodies against HIV and educate one type of white blood cells to find infected cells and kill them,” explains Kang. “We hope the vaccine will not only prevent HIV infection, but that it can be used as an immuno-therapeutic agent.”
It is expected that the FDA will allow for the testing to begin shortly. The United States trials will include toxicology tests and two phases of clinical trials.
The vaccine is being manufactured in a Maryland lab while the FDA approval is being waited on.
Within a decade the vaccine could be available to the public if the human trials are successful. Kang believes that the vaccine could be on the market in as little as three years for therapeutic use and then as a preventive vaccine within six years.
There have been several vaccines that have been developed and undergone animal testing. Few of those vaccines make it to the human test trials and of those there have yet to be a successful human vaccine produced.
A potential vaccine by Merck and Co. in 2007 had to be shut down after those in the trial contracted HIV at a higher rate than those who received the placebo.
The toxicology tests are planned for 40 to 50 HIV-positive volunteers in the United States. The test is designed to see if the vaccine is toxic in humans.
Kang has been the Dean of Science at The University of Western Ontario since 1992.