Vaccine Clears Aggressive Form of HIV in Half of Monkeys Treated
September 13, 2013 12:20 PM
Louis Picker, M.D.
The team is now trying to figure out why only half of the monkeys were successful in being treated while the other half were not
A new vaccine candidate has shown
promise for HIV/AIDS
patients by clearing a very aggressive form of the virus.
Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)
-- led by Dr. Louis Picker -- have developed a vaccine that specifically targeted the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), which is an aggressive form of HIV that turns into AIDS.
HIV is tricky because it's difficult to clear completely from the body. While it can be undetectable in blood or tissue, it could hide in other places like organs and reappear later. SIV is even worse, replicating up to 100 times faster than HIV and can cause AIDS in only two years if it goes unnoticed.
The team created the vaccine by using a cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is another virus just as persistent as SIV, but doesn't cause disease. The vaccine generated an immunoresponse that nearly mimicked the normal immunoresponse generated by CMV, creating
effector memory T-cells
that can search and destroy target cells. These cells remained in the system and were persistent, since the immunoresponse was similar to that of a normal CMV, and successfully targeted SIV-infected cells until the virus disappeared from the body.
This is important, because while other vaccines produce an immunoresponse too, the response diminishes over time.
The team tested the vaccine on monkeys with initial signs of infection, and found that about fifty percent of the monkeys tested showed signs of the infection fading before disappearing completely.
"The virus got in, it infected some cells, moved about in various parts of the body, but it was subsequently cleared, so that by two or three years later the monkeys looked like normal monkeys," said Dr. Picker. "There's no evidence, even with the most sensitive tests, of the SIV virus still being there."
The team is now trying to figure out why only half of the monkeys were successful in being treated while the other half were not. But the OHSU researchers hope this vaccine candidate one day translates into a human form of the vaccine.
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