The success of an experimental vaccine trial with rhesus monkeys is motivating a pharmaceutical company to undertake experimental HIV vaccine tests in Thailand, East and South Africa, and the United States of America US, with 400 healthy participants taking part in the first phase of the trials.
Scientists say the vaccine protected half of a batch of monkeys against the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, SIV, which is very similar to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
This development came to light just as a former researcher at Iowa State University, was jailed for fraudulently securing millions in funds for further research on a potential vaccine for HIV that turned out to be fake.
Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, is testing the vaccine on humans, for the first time in eight years since a pharmaceutical company last attempted an experimental HIV vaccine trial on humans.
Researchers are optimistic that if results of the current human study are as good as the result in the non-human primate test subjects, then a larger scale clinical trial could begin within the next two years.
A study published in the journal Science, revealed that monkeys used for the new study received shots of the experimental vaccine and were then injected with SIV, which is very similar to HIV. A total of six injections of SIV were given to the monkeys to find the point where the vaccine would fail.