The Vaccine These Doctors Just Announced Is Entering Human Trials Could Be Life-Changing

This could be a game-changer.

It took years of research, but the University of Maryland School of Medicine is finally moving into the human stages of its HIV/AIDS vaccine testing. 

Nearly twenty years ago, scientists began testing the vaccine on animals like apes. Since they began that testing in 1987, they've followed more than 50 candidates in over 100 clinical trials.

"The results in monkeys are interesting, but they're not perfect," Dr. Robert Gallo, head of the school's Institute of Human Virology, said at an event last week. "If we keep just using monkeys, we're never going anywhere. We need for humans to respond."

In Thailand, one 2009 study found that one potential vaccine protected about a third of patients, not enough to sell it or use regularly. 

The human phase that they are entering will take about a year, according to the Baltimore Sun. Even after they get through that, if successful, it will be years before the Food and Drug Administration can vet the vaccine and approve it for the general public. In this Phase 1 trial, 60 people will be followed, and 20 will get the drug.

A major force behind this research has been the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which raised $23.4 million of funding for the project. The U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army also had active roles.  

"Our HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate is designed to bind to the virus at the moment of infection, when many different strains of HIV found around the world can be neutralized," Gallo said. "We believe this mechanism is a major prerequisite for an effective HIV preventive vaccine."

(H/T: Baltimore Sun)