Last summer hopes were raised when data from a vaccine trial in Thailand reported promising results in the search for an HIV vaccine. Unfortunately upon second look the results of the 16,000 person study showed only minimal benefit not living up to the hype or the $105 million dollar price tag associated with the trial.
Fortunately other developments in HIV vaccine research do hold promise as novel research deepens researchers understanding of vaccines and speeds progression towards a vaccine to protect against HIV.
LAMP is one such advancement. LAMP (lysosomal-associated membrane protein) is a technology used in vaccines which is similar to an adjuvant and may be the ‘missing link’ in DNA vaccines. It can be added inside the vaccine vector and is an inexpensive means of bolstering the effect of a vaccine to enhance the reaction of the immune system.
By definition an adjuvant is a ‘substance sometimes included in a vaccine formulation to enhance or modify the immune-stimulating properties of a vaccine’. There are various adjuvants presently in clinical development. LAMP appears to be one of the most encouraging to date. It is also in clinical development for other diseases and illnesses such as various allergies and Cancers and is showing promising data for these applications as well.
LAMP is being researched by a company called Immunomics Therapeutics. Immunomics is located in Gaithersburg, MD. LAMP was discovered in 1984 by Dr. J Thomas August as part of his research into understanding compartmental trafficking within cells.
When a vaccine is introduced into the body the immune system reacts in a particular way, activating a CD8 cell mediated response. When LAMP is present in the vaccine vector, the CD8 cell mediated response is heightened and the CD4+ T-helper pathway is activated as well. This results in a complete immune response including antibody production, cytokine release and immunological memory. Stimulation of cytokine production is essential for a successful DNA vaccine.
Further research into the utilization of LAMP as used within a DNA vaccine vector for HIV is ongoing. Although the actual data compiled from RV144, the Thailand Vaccine trial was disappointing, advances such as LAMP provide promising steps towards the development of a preventative and therapeutic vaccine to prevent the spread of HIV.
Author: Jeannie Wraight