A team of French scientists has started clinical trials on humans for a potential HIV/AIDS vaccine.
Chief Scientific Officer at Grenoble-based PX’Therapeutics Nicolas Mouz said: “We’re developping a vaccine against HIV, using a protein of the HIV virus called GP41.
“Why the GP41 protein? Because it’s a key protein in the mechanism of entry of the virus into the cells.
“And it’s a protein which allows the generation of neutralising antibodies, which is the main objective of the vaccine.”
Protein GP41 – remember that name, because that protein could help European researchers overcome one of the world’s most pernicious diseases: HIV/AIDS.
The team at PX’Therapeutics believes GP41’s low level of genetic variability means it could allow them to develop a truly ground-breaking vaccine.
Nicolas Mouz explained: “The idea is to look for an immune response of neutralising antibodies in the mucus. Why in mucus? Because nearly 90% of AIDS cases are due to sexual relations.”
These French researchers are part of a European project that includes clinical trials of their HIV vaccine.
The team is following closely as 50 British volunteers take part in the first round of tests.
PX’Therapeutics’ pharmaceutical director is Lucile Marron Brignone. She said: “After each administration of the product we check if there are any side effects.
“The other objective is to have information about the immunogenicity of the product, that’s to say whether or not it generates an immune response within patients or healthy volunteers.”
The trials have started well – and it is hoped this technology could be part of a truly effective HIV vaccine.
Nicolas Mouz said: “We are probably quite a long way from an AIDS vaccine, but we do believe that this vaccine has real potential, and we could imagine that the future AIDS vaccine will probably be a mix of different subunit vaccines, and that this vaccine subunit could be part of a future vaccine.”