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Research shows potential for human HIV vaccine

Category: Infectious Diseases

HIV vaccine

New research has shown the possibility of creating an HIV vaccine for humans. The research found that a vaccine for simian immunodeficiency virus, a sexually transmitted disease that is essentially the primate version of HIV, worked on 9 out of 12 monkeys tested with the vaccine.

How the vaccine works
SIV is even more deadly than its human counterpart, HIV, and monkeys generally die within two years of infection. In order to create the vaccine, dead SIV cells were combined with the virus Cytomegalovirus. The CMV was chemically weakened before adding the SIV, and the vaccine was then given to 12 test subjects. The monkeys were then purposefully infected with SIV, but only three of the test subjects succumbed to complications from the disease.

The study's lead author, Louis Picker, Ph.D., believes that using the CMV in the vaccine was the key component of its success. The harmless CMV was able to circulate through the bloodstream fast enough to spread the dead SIV cells and create an immunity, according to the study, published in the journal Nature. The vaccine becomes lodged in the cells and encourages them to continually battle the SIV infection, according to lab tests.

"This is the first proof that the AIDS virus can be eliminated by immune response," said Picker. "It dawned on me that we want a vaccine that is very strong from the beginning because HIV is able to evolve fast and evade attack."

The researcher cautioned that it would likely be years before the research can benefit those diagnosed with HIV through STD testing, but it showed promise for a future. He is now experimenting with the same vaccine method and tuberculosis infections, which shows some promise, noted AllAfrica.

HIV in humans
HIV is the infection that causes AIDS in humans if left untreated. AIDS.gov noted that many people infected with HIV may not show symptoms, while others have flu-like conditions, making STD tests important for those who may be at risk for the STD. While there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, treatments can help those infected live longer and experience a higher quality of life. HIV and AIDS lower the efficiency of the immune system, making the body more likely to be infected by other diseases and infections that can be deadly in weakened persons.

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