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J&J to discontinue trial after HIV vaccine found ineffective


People pose with syringe with needle in front of displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken, December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said on Wednesday it will discontinue the late-stage global trial of an HIV vaccine after it was found ineffective at preventing infections.

The trial involved administering two different types of a shot – that uses a cold-causing virus to deliver genetic code of HIV – spread over four vaccination visits in a year. J&J used a similar technology for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Shares of J&J were down 1% at $170.57 in morning trade.
The HIV vaccine study, which began in 2019, was conducted at over 50 sites and included about 3,900 men who have sex with men and transgender people – groups that are considered vulnerable to the infection.

J&J’s partner, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), said the shot was being tested only on individuals who did not accept pre-exposure prophylaxis – treatment to prevent infections.
While no safety issues were identified with the vaccine regimen, the trial’s failure marks yet another setback in the search for a vaccine against HIV – a virus known to mutate rapidly and find unique ways to evade the immune system.

“Although HIV continues to prove uniquely challenging for development of a vaccine, the HIV research community remains fully committed to doing just that, and each study brings us a step closer to this realization,” said Susan Buchbinder, co-chair of the study from HVTN.

While no HIV vaccine has successfully cleared trial, various drugs are used in high-risk groups and patients.

Meanwhile, various HIV vaccine candidates, including from Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), HVTN and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are currently under trial.

Another HIV vaccine by J&J in 2021 failed a mid-stage study in a population of young women in sub-Saharan Africa.