Date: Sep 11, 2013 Author: Nick Budnick Source: Oregon Live (
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A technique created by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University may show the greatest promise yet in the hunt for a way to curb the spread of AIDS. It might clear the deadly virus from the body altogether.
The researchers used a vaccine to essentially cure about 50 percent of monkeys infected
with a cousin of the HIV virus that causes AIDS - with no detectable disease left in its wake. The results were published in the journal Nature Wednesday.
Scientists have pursued an HIV vaccine for years. OHSU’s team hopes this one is successful. Two years ago they reported progress in controlling the virus. Now, however, they say their new test vaccine doesn't just control SIV -- it appears to completely eradicate it.
"To date, 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," said Dr. Louis Picker of OHSU in a statement. "This latest research suggests that certain immune responses elicited by a new vaccine may also have the ability to completely remove HIV from the body."
Picker and his colleagues conducted the work at the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, located on OHSU's Hillsboro campus with the Oregon National Primate Research Center.
They used a modified version of a common, typically harmless virus, called cytomegalovirus or CMV, to essentially retrain the body's immune system to target SIV.
As a result, the body's T-cells, the immune system's shock troops, are "constantly patrolling" for SIV, Picker said.
It's too early to declare victory, he added. Tests using human subjects will be necessary to see whether a similar vaccine will work as well against HIV.
"If anything, (SIV) is more persistent, more aggressive, more deadly than HIV," Picker said.
Picker and OHSU declared a conflict of interest while they announced the news. OHSU has licensed the CMV technology to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Also, Picker and OHSU own part of TomegaVax, Inc., a company that hopes to perfect and market the vaccine.The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.