Christian Brander (de IrsiCaixa) representa uno de los ponentes más destacados de la jornada del miércoles en nuestro noveno congreso, en donde hablará sobre el horizonte temporal sobre el que se trabaja para encontrar la vacuna terapéutica frente al VIH.

What are the main advances recently reached in your research to find a  HIV vaccine?

A small study, conducted in Barcelona, under the trial names BCN-01 and BCN-02, has shown that HIV specific T cell immune responses in early treated individuals can be redirected to the vaccine immunogen insert.  This indicates that in these individuals, possibly due to their early treatment initiation (within a few weeks to months after HV infection) the immune system is healthy enough to induce new T cell responses or effectively expand low-level, subdominant responses.  In addition, vaccinated individuals interrupted HIV treatment and 5/14 participants were able to control viral replication in the absence of treatment.  5 of these subjects remained off treatment until the end of study at 8 months post treatment interruption.

After these results, what are the next steps to take?

We need to conduct detailed immune analyses, HIV sequence studies and correlate analyses to identify potential factors that have helped the 5 subjects to control their virus after treatment interruption.  In addition, we need to plan on further studies and initiate these as soon as possible, with even more potent vaccine regimens and more rationally designed immunogen sequences than those used on the BCN-01/2 study

What are the main obstacles found during your research? How did you deal with them?

The main obstacles still remain, even after seeing some signals in these last few, small studies of therapeutic vaccination.   Aside from developing rationally designed immunogen and delivering them in the most potent and suitable vectors, we also need to find ways of directing targeting the viral reservoir.  What is needed are small, but sufficiently powered clinical trials developing different  strategies so that from partially effective approaches more effective designs can be developed in an iterative manner.

Would you dare to fix a date for getting the vaccine or, at least, for first human trials?

No. In August 2017, we have initiated a new phase I trial of a therapeutic HIV vaccine expressing our own HTI immunogen sequence in early treated individuals and will have proof of concept data in mid 2020.  From there, there is still a long way to have a vaccine available to treat individuals on a regular basis.