A vaccine to prevent HIV will begin human clinical trials next year.

The Canadian-developed vaccine by researchers at the University of Western Ontario, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start being tested in humans in January.

The vaccine is the first preventive HIV vaccine approved for clinical trials to use a whole HIV-1 virus, which has been both killed and genetically engineered, to activate immunity.

The new vaccine is similar to those against polio, rabies and influenza.

HIV vaccines currently in clinical human trials have largely focused on one specific component of HIV to trigger an immune response.

“FDA approval for human clinical trials is an extremely significant milestone for our vaccine, which has the potential to save the lives of millions of people around the world by preventing HIV infection,” Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, professor of virology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, said in a statement.

Previous studies have shown the vaccine triggers a strong immune response and has yet to show any adverse effects or safety risks.

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