Beatriz Mothe and Lucía Bailón today collect the award that recognizes the great scientific challenges achieved in 2023 in the field of HIV
Doctors Beatriz Mothe and Lucía Bailón of the HIV research team in Vaccines, Immunotherapy and Pharmacology of the Fight Against Infections Foundation and doctors at the Germans Trias Hospital receive the "European Hector Research Award in HIV 2023" prize for the results of the clinical trial AELIX-002 carried out with the therapeutic vaccine against HIV from AELIX Therapeutics, designed at IrsiCaixa by doctors Christian Brander, Anuska Llano and Beatriz Mothe. The results have been published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine in October 2022 and the project was partially supported by the Glòria Soler Foundation. The objective of this vaccine is to stimulate the immune system in a similar way to people who control the HIV virus spontaneously without antiretroviral treatment.
The AELIX-002 study revealed that the vaccines were not only safe but also capable of enhancing the immune response against HIV in the volunteers who received them. Moreover, those participants who exhibited a more robust immune response were able to sustain longer periods without antiretroviral treatment and had fewer viruses compared to individuals who either did not receive the vaccine or did not respond to it. This finding underscores the vaccine's potential to educate the immune system for improved virus response, paving the way for combining HTI vaccines with other agents to achieve enhanced responses in a broader range of participants.
"The favorable outcomes of this trial demonstrate the possibility of eliciting an immune response in individuals living with HIV, enabling them to enhance virus suppression even without antiretroviral medication," says Dr. Beatriz Mothe, doctor and researcher at theFight Against Infections Foundation and the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute, as well as principal researcher of the study.
The study participants received two rounds of vaccination, following which their antiretroviral treatment was temporarily halted. Throughout the interruption period, they underwent weekly evaluations to assess the viral load in their blood. If the viral load increased significantly, treatment was promptly resumed. The researchers confirmed that, among participants lacking any genetic predisposition for spontaneous HIV control, 8 individuals (40%) managed to remain treatment-free for the entire 6-month interruption phase. In contrast, in the placebo group, all but one participant (8%) resumed treatment according to the protocol's criteria.
European Hector Research Award in HIV
In 2019 Jürgen Rockstroh, professor of medicine and head of HIV at the University of Bonn in Germany, created and announced a prize for European research on HIV. The award recognizes the great scientific achievements achieved during the year in the field of HIV research. The winners are announced during the European Conference on AIDS that this year takes place in the city of Warsaw (Poland) during this month of October. Doctors Bailón and Mothe wanted to thank the perseverance of all the researchers involved in the project, as well as the entire AELIX Therapeutics team for their trust. Finally, special mention has been made to all the participants and their families for their involvement in the research, without which the study would not have been possible, especially during the years complicated by the pandemic caused by COVID19.