Researchers at Imperial College London are to launch trials of a new drug that mimics the effects of HIV.

It is hoped that the trials, involving sixty participants between the ages of 18 and 45, will lead to a breakthrough in the development of an HIV vaccine.

Professor Robin Shattock (pictured), who is leading the research team, explains, "with this particular trial, what we are hoping for is to be able to get antibodies to the right place at the right time.

"Participants will swallow this tablet. The virus will replicate to a minor extent in the gut and then die off, but we hope that will give us antibodies in mucosal surfaces in the vagina and rectum, the sites that HIV would normally enter. We are hoping that this might give us a new mechanism for getting them [the antibodies] to the right place at the right time - at least that is the concept we are trying to test."

“We will measure the level of antibodies that are made in response to the vaccine. We will measure these in the blood and the rectum and vagina to show that they are induced. We will test against HIV in the lab, and look at whether these antibodies neutralise the virus.”

Participants will be healthy and not at high risk of HIV. If the trial is successful, funding will be sought for further studies along the same lines.

If you wish to participate you can apply via Imperial Clinical Research's website here.