A new twist on HIV vaccines shows results in monkeys, study says

Feb 24, 2015

Credit: NIH

By Monte Morin

An effective vaccine for HIV has eluded researchers for several decades, because of the pathogen’s infamous shape-shifting abilities.

Even though researchers have identified certain broadly neutralizing antibodies that can conquer multiple strains of the human immunodeficiency virus, many strains of rapidly mutating HIV remain resistant to these super antibodies.

In recent years, however, researchers have proposed using gene therapy in a new method of battling the virus.

Instead of using a vaccine to stimulate the body’s own immune system so that it produces HIV antibodies, scientists are bypassing the immune system entirely.

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One comment on “A new twist on HIV vaccines shows results in monkeys, study says”

  • I understand this to mean they use a virus to modify your genome so you produce your own anti-viral drugs. It does not use the immune system.

    I see some difficulties.

    Current HIV drugs have nasty side effects. You would not want to give them to people who were not sick.
    Putting such drugs out into the world generally is like overusing antibiotics. HIV gets a maximal shot at developing immunity to them.
    You can’t very well turn them off.
    How do you test a human HIV vaccine? People trust it but it does not work. People do not trust it, so they are not really testing its effectiveness.

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