May 15, 2011

Herpes HIV Vaccine

Herpes HIV Vaccine
The experimental vaccine was hailed as a significant breakthrough after outstanding success in animal trials.

Cytomegalovirus, which belongs to the herpes family, enables the immune system to be constantly on the alert for HIV. And, uniquely, the injected vaccine is carried by a persistent virus that remains in the body for life. Researchers in the US used different versions against a monkey form of Aids.

Now, scientists are preparing to test its potential in human trials after independent experts described it as significant and exciting.

More than half the rhesus macaques treated responded to the point where even the most sensitive tests detected no signs of the virus.

To date, most of the animals have maintained control over the virus for more than a year, gradually showing no indication that they had ever been infected. The findings suggest the vaccine could be effective enough to rid the body of the immunodeficiency virus completely, according to the scientists writing in the journal Nature.

Conventional anti-retroviral therapies are able to control HIV infection but cannot clear the virus from its hiding places within the immune system’s white blood cells.

Prof Robin Shattock, an expert in cellular and molecular infection at Imperial College in London, said the study was significant. ‘People had given up, to a large extent, in trying to develop vaccines that could control HIV rather than protect from infection,’ he said. ‘This puts it firmly back on the table.’

Jason Warriner, clinical director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the vaccine was an ‘exciting new approach’.

There are estimated to be 33million people worldwide living with HIV/Aids.