A vaccine against HIV/AIDS has been successfully tested on rodents, succeeding, where other attempts have failed, to generate a powerful immune system response.
This new vaccine strategy was developed by American scientists from the Scripps Institute of Research in San Diego, California.
If these results are confirmed in humans, they would represent the largest breakthrough in the fight against HIV / AIDS in the last 30 years, believe the biophysicist Jiang Zhu and his colleagues.
They could actually lead to the design of an HIV / AIDS vaccine.
We view this new approach as a general solution to the longstanding problems in designing HIV vaccines.
Did you know?
- At present, 37 million people are living with HIV / AIDS on the planet. No less than 1.8 million new cases were diagnosed in 2016.
- More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it.
- From 2010 to 2015, the estimated number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. declined 8%.
How The New Vaccine Works
The present vaccine is based on the Env protein present in the HIV envelope.
It is a very complex and variable molecule, with a variable form, which is very difficult to synthesize for the creation of a vaccine, but whose production is necessary in order to induce an effective immunity against HIV.
Expression of this gene allows retroviruses to target and attach to specific cell types and infiltrate a cell membrane.
But the Scripps Institute team has found a simple way to stabilize the Env protein for the various strains of HIV.
To date, we have made this change to the Env protein from 30 to 40 different strains of HIV and, in most cases, it has worked as a charm.
Mounted on virus-like particles that mimic an entire virus, the stabilized Env protein has triggered solid anti-HIV antibody responses in mice and rabbits.
The researchers have already started testing the candidate vaccine on 24 monkeys.
The institute has patented its technique and granted its rights to a company (Ufovax LLC) that sponsors the tests in progress and will market the vaccine if all the tests prove conclusive.
The details of this work are published in the journal Science Advances.
A different experimental vaccine against HIV-1 was well tolerated and generated good immune responses in 393 adults 18 to 50 years in good health from Africa, Thailand, and the United States. Tests are also underway to determine whether the immune response produced is sufficient to prevent HIV infection.
In addition, weekly HIV / AIDS treatment tests on pigs have yielded encouraging results.