Research team develops a new vaccine that kills HIV in monkeys

A team of researchers in Japan has created a vaccine that eliminated the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in test macaques during an early trial. And it could start human testing within just five years. The information was published by The Asahi Shimbum newspaper this week.

But treatment so far hasn’t been able to actually kill the virus — just greatly mute the many negative effects it can have on human health. Yasuhiro Yasutomi, director of the Tsukuba Primate Research Center under the National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, said the team’s goal is to begin clinical testing on humans within five years.

The team created a vaccine by using a special bacterium that boosts immune response and then paired genes of this bacterium with a a weakened AIDS-causing virus.

When the vaccine was administered on seven crab-eating macaques, the animals became infected with simian-HIV, but further tests were unable to actually detect the virus, the team said.

Even after being injected with a more stronger virus that always kills the victim, the virus disappeared in six of the seven subjects.

Blood and lymph node cells were taken from the surviving macaques and injected into healthy monkeys. Four of the subjects were found free of the virus.

The research team are now hoping to create vaccines by using HIV taken from patients who are undergoing drug treatment.

AIDS is one of the three most prevalent infectious diseases in the world. About 37.7 million people globally are infected with HIV.

While AIDS is no longer a fatal disease as long as drug treatment is continued, the medicines currently available do not kill the virus.

The continual use of such drugs over a long period of time is not only expensive but could also produce side effects as well as create a drug-tolerant virus.

US-based pharmaceutical Moderna, has recently begun human trials for their mRNA-based HIV vaccine, which uses the same technology as the widely used COVID-19 vaccine.

HIV has consistently been one of the deadliest infectious diseases over the last 40-odd years. But with new advancements in medicine, there’s more hope than ever before in defeating the virus once and for all.

Tuesday, Nov 16, 2021


The Asahi Shimbun

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