Can Big Pharma solve the HIV crisis?
There have been plenty of reports of HIV vaccines over the last decade. But now Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, is entering the fray.
According to Bloomberg, the pharma giant is set to begin human trials of an HIV vaccine in the U.S. and Europe. 3,800 men who have sex with men will be given the shot in a study that’s reportedly launching later this year.
“The cost of treating HIV patients — the burden for patients, the burden for society — is very high,” Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, told Bloomberg. HIV prevention is “a big mission for us,” he said. “We’ve been working on it for almost 30 years.”
The news comes after researchers managed to eliminate HIV from the genomes of living animals for the first time earlier this month.
J&J’s shot targets more than one HIV strain thanks to a “mosaic” of proteins that could raise immune defenses against different HIV strains around the globe. Previous animal trials of the so-called “tetravalent mosaic” saw an up to two-thirds success rate, according to Johnson & Johnson.
“It’s measurably better in animal studies than other vaccines tested thus far,” Bruce Walker, director of the disease immunity-focused Ragon Institute, told Bloomberg.
READ MORE: J&J’s Quest for Elusive HIV Vaccine Is Poised for Major Test [Bloomberg]