Stephens College

New HIV Vaccine Hope

An new and innovative vaccination has proven to completely protect monkeys from contracting the HIV virus. This vaccine doesn’t work like ordinary vaccines though and instead of administering an antibody to manipulate the immune system in order to kill an infection, instead the DNA of the monkey was altered in order to help their cells fight against HIV. It is hoped that human trials will begin as soon as possible. The animal study responsible for gleaning these results is published in the journal, Nature.


The team of researchers behind this finding use gene therapy to add new DNA inside healthy muscle cells. Within these cells is held information which instructs the body to neutralise HIV. The materials manufactured by the body to do this are then pumped into the bloodstream on a continual basis, preventing the body from infection. In this case, the monkeys were protected from infection for approximately 34 weeks.


The HIV virus is always mutating so it’s very hard to find a vaccine but in this case, the DNA manipulation within the monkey is now thought to be more potent than an antibody which means it could likely have more long term efficacy than a regular vaccine.


In saying that, regular vaccines only kick in when the system faces threat. In this case, the body is protected immediately even without the threat of HIV and remains protecting the body in this way on a long term basis.We do not know what the long terms of effects of this continual flow will be.


The team believe that the vaccine might also be effective for infected patients since in trial, their was a good response even under high doses of the virus. These high doses would be the same as those produced in a patient suffering from chronic HIV infection.


This group of researchers have a long way to go yet but thee is no doubt about how exciting the study results have so far been.