A New Vaccine Kills HIV in Monkeys. And It's Coming to Humans in 5 Years
The world is seeing momentum in efforts to find an HIV cure.
A team of researchers in Japan has developed a vaccine that was able to kill a type of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in macaques during an early trial, raising hope among the more than 37.7 million people living with HIV for an end to the AIDS pandemic, The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, reports.
And it could start human testing within just five years.
A vaccine for AIDS
Fortunately, AIDS is no longer a fatal disease as long as the patient continues drug treatment; however, the current medications do not kill the virus. Instead, people with HIV take a combination of HIV drugs to reduce the amount of virus in their bodies, and this can reduce the amount of virus in the body to undetectable levels. While lowering the amount of virus in the body to undetectable levels means the virus can no longer be transferred, the most effective antiretroviral therapy drugs are still unable to completely eliminate the virus. And long-term usage of such treatments is not only costly, but it may also result in side effects and the development of a drug-tolerant virus.
However, this may be beginning to change. The scientists created a vaccine by employing a specific bacterium that boosts immune response and then paired this with an AIDS-causing virus that had been weakened.
The seven crab-eating macaque test subjects became infected with simian-HIV, but tests were unable to actually detect the virus, according to the study published in the National Library of Medicine. Even after being injected with a more potent virus that could have been lethal, the virus vanished without a trace in six of the seven test subjects.
The researchers are now attempting to build a vaccine for humans using HIV from patients receiving medication therapy.
And this is not the only notable effort to create an HIV vaccine. Moderna, a pharmaceutical company based in the United States, has recently begun human trials for their mRNA-based HIV vaccine, which uses the same technology as the widely used COVID-19 vaccine. These trials consists of 56 adults between the ages of 18 to 50 years old who don't have HIV and test for safety, immune responses and antibodies. While some say the game-changing mRNA technology may not work so well with HIV since it mutates much more quickly and evades the body's immune system, time will show whether the trial will be successful or not.
We had the chance to speak to Dr. Stiavelli, the head of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope project