This Week In HIV Research


This Week in HIV Research: HIV Vaccine Study Seeks to Build Upon Previous Landmark Results, and Mutations Promoting HIV in the Brain Identified

May 20, 2016

This week, a large HIV vaccine trial will test whether a promising regimen can increase the 31% efficacy found in a landmark 2009 vaccine study. Another study identifies mutations that may bolster HIV replication in the brain. To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!


Large-Scale HIV Vaccine Trial to Launch in South Africa

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new HIV vaccine study, called HVTN 702, that will test an experimental vaccine regimen that has shown similar immune responses to the ones seen in RV144, the landmark 2009 Thai trial that found a final efficacy of 31% for the study's vaccine candidate in preventing HIV transmission.

Looking more closely at RV144, the vaccine regimen appears to have been up to 60% effective at preventing HIV within one year of vaccination. Therefore, HVTN 702's vaccine candidate is based off of the one tested in RV144, but the composition and schedule of the vaccine regimen has been adjusted in an effort to increase the potency and duration of immune responses.

HVTN 702 will follow approximately 5,400 men and women (at least 40% of each sex), between the ages of 18 and 35, across 15 sites in South Africa beginning in November 2016, with results expected in late 2020.

Read: This Week in HIV Research: PrEP for People Who Inject Drugs Not Cost Effective, and Study Bolsters Gene Therapy Research



Study Identifies Mutations Promoting HIV in the Brain of Primates

A protein known as BST-2 was found to limit the replication of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in the central nervous system (CNS) of primates, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

This discovery might help to develop better therapies for HIV-associated neurocognitive problems, according to the study press release.

The study authors noted that while BST-2 had been previously studied in vitro, the protein's effect on virus replication in vivo had not been studied before. They explained that for ethical reasons such studies cannot be performed on human participants; hence, rhesus macaques and SIV (the primate version of HIV) were used instead.

A non-neurovirulent simian virus was passed sequentially through these animals, causing that virus to mutate and eventually resulting in a neurovirulent version of the virus. More passes of the virus resulted in more mutations, which in turn increased the likelihood that the macaque had a neurological disorder.

The study then identified four specific mutations in that neurovirulent strain which appear to heighten the BST-2 antagonism of the virus. These mutations might be "the result of the viral adaptations to the CNS microenvironment to counteract BST-2 restriction more efficiently," study authors speculated.

Warren Tong is the senior science editor for and Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.

Barbara Jungwirth is a freelance writer and translator based in New York. Follow Barbara on Twitter: @reliabletran.

Copyright © 2016 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

Related Stories

This Week in HIV Research: PrEP for People Who Inject Drugs Not Cost Effective, and Study Bolsters Gene Therapy Research
This Week in HIV Research: Antibody Being Tested for HIV Prevention, and Differing Results on HCV Treatment in Coinfection
This Week in HIV Research: When New Meets Old

This article was provided by TheBodyPRO.

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.