A research published in the journal Nature shows that a vaccine has successfully cleared a monkey version of HIV from the bloodstreams of infected animals.
The research team looked at the SIVmac239 (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus), a form of HIV found in monkeys, which is 100 times more aggressive and tend to kill them within 2 years after being infected.
The vaccine is based on the cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is part of the herpes family. Researchers then used the infectious power of CMV to sweep throughout the body. But instead of causing disease, they modified it to tell the immune system, and particularly the T-cells, to fight off the SIV molecules.
16 monkeys were vaccinated and then exposed to SIVmac239. In nine of the cases, the monkeys’ immune systems were able to fight off infection and destroy the virus. Those monkeys remained SIV free between 1.5 to three years later.
This success leads the US scientists to believe they can use a similar approach to test a vaccine for HIV in humans. Researchers engineered a CMV virus which generates the same immune response but whose virulence has been modified to the point where they think it is unequivocally safe
“This would first have to pass through the regulatory authorities, but if it does, he said he hoped to start the first clinical trials in humans in the next two years” one of the research team members, Professor Louis Piker says.
So far, HIV infection has only been cured in a very small number of highly-publicized but unusual clinical cases in which HIV-infected individuals were treated with anti-viral medicines very early after the onset of infection or received a stem cell transplant to combat cancer.
This latest research suggests that certain immune responses obtained by a new vaccine may also have the ability to completely remove HIV from the body.” It could also give support to another research made in Denmark, where scientists are investigating a way to fight off HIV reservoirs thanks to panobinostat, a molecule usually used to treat cancer