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Thursday, January 24, 2013
HIV Vaccine Brakes Disease for Year
Not a cure of course, but certainly it is a useful tool to apply to
the problem. Considering the side effects and costs of all the
present protocols, getting a year's relief is great.
It may also lead to something permanent.
The tool kit now available for HIV is now surprisingly large and
optimism abounds that a cure is both possible and perhaps sooner than
appears obvious. At least victims are all now living out their lives
in the developed world with some occasional damage and are actually
drifting into old age and succumbing to other causes often not
related at all.
A team of Spanish
researchers say they have developed a therapeutic vaccine that can
temporarily brake growth of the HIV virus in infected patients.
The vaccine, based on
immune cells exposed to HIV that had been inactivated with heat, was
tested on a group of 36 people carrying the virus and the results
were the best yet recorded for such a treatment, the team said.
"What we did
was give instructions to the immune system so it could learn to
destroy the virus, which it does not do naturally," said
Felipe Garcia, one of the scientists in the team at Barcelona
University's Hospital Clinic.
vaccine, a shot that treats an existing disease rather than
preventing it, was safe and led to a dramatic drop in the amount of
HIV virus detected in some patients, said the study, published
Wednesday in Science Translation Medicine.
After 12 weeks of the
trial, the HIV viral load dropped by more than 90 percent among 12
of the 22 patients who received the vaccine. Only one among the
11 patients who received a control injection without the vaccine
experienced a similar result.
After 24 weeks, the
effectiveness had begun to decline, however, with seven of the 20
remaining patients receiving the vaccine enjoying a similar
90-percent slump in viral load. No-one in the control group of 10
patients experienced such a decline in the virus.
The vaccine lost
its effectiveness after a year, when the patients had to return
to their regular combination therapy of anti-retroviral drugs.
Researchers said the
results were similar to those achieved with a single anti-retroviral
drug, used to block the growth of HIV.
"It is the most
solid demonstration in the scientific literature that a therapeutic
vaccine is possible," they said in a statement.
The vaccine allowed
patients temporarily to live without taking multiple medicines on a
daily basis, which created hardship for patients, could have toxic
side-effects over the long term and had a high financial price, the
investigation opens the path to additional studies with the final
goal of achieving a functional cure -- the control of HIV replication
for long periods or an entire life without anti-retroviral
treatment," the researchers said in a statement.
still have not got a functional cure, the results published today
open the possibility of achieving an optimal therapeutic vaccine, or
a combination of strategies that includes a therapeutic vaccine, and
could help to reach that goal," they said.
The team said it took
seven years to get to this point, and the researchers would now work
on improving the vaccine and combining it with other therapeutic
vaccines over the next three or four years.
According to latest UN
figures, the number of people infected by HIV worldwide rose to 34
million in 2011 from 33.5 million in 2010.