A vaccine to prevent AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is not very far from turning into a reality.
In a significant breakthrough in medical history, a team of scientists have developed a vaccine that can remove the AIDS-causing virus completely from the body.
Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University in the US proved the effectiveness of the vaccine by conducting experiments on monkeys infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a retrovirus that causes AIDS in non-human primates.
During the experiments, the scientists combined a common virus known as cytomegalovirus (CMV) with the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). The modified CMV further helped create "effector memory" T-cells, to destroy the SIV-infected cells.
"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," Louis Picker, associate director of the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, said in a news release.
"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."
Nearly half of the monkeys included in the experiment showed positive response to the vaccine and their bodies could successfully eliminate the virus.
As a next step, the scientists are planning to conduct more experiments to get similar results on human beings. "Through this method we were able to teach the monkey's body to better 'prepare its defenses' to combat the disease," explained Picker.
"Our vaccine mobilized a T-cell response that was able to overtake the SIV invaders in 50 percent of the cases treated. Moreover, in those cases with a positive response, our testing suggests SIV was banished from the host. We are hopeful that pairing our modified CMV vector with HIV will lead to a similar result in humans."
According to World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 34 million people were diagnosed with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in 2011 and 1.7 million died of AIDS. Efforts to beat the sexually-transmitted disease have been going on for a long time. In 2011. A team of Spanish researchers developed a vaccine known as MVA-B to lower the impact of HIV on the people already infected with the HIV, The Guardian reported.
Earlier this month, researchers at the Western University in Canada announced that they have successfully completed Phase 1 clinical trial of a preventative HIV vaccine, named SAV001-H, in human beings.