How close are scientists to a vaccine for HIV?
Gunnel Biberfeld, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Professor at the Department of Microbiology, Cell and Tumor Biology, Karolinska Institutet about vaccine for HIV/AIDS.
"Vaccine tests on apes and studies of long-term survivors of HIV and people frequently exposed to HIV who have resisted infection provide us with important information for developing an HIV vaccine."
A study of 1,350 participants has recently begun in the USA to examine the protective effects of a vaccine combination. The test subjects first receive a DNA vaccine with HIV genes and then a weak common cold virus, it too with HIV genes. A recently completed Swedish study in Tanzania of another HIV vaccine combination a DNA vaccine with HIV genes followed by a smallpox vaccine also with HIV genes proved promising, as all the vaccinated participants developed a strong and broad immune defence against HIV.
A new study of the same vaccine will commence this spring in Stockholm, but this time modified to augment both the cellular immune response and the antibody response to HIV. A new extended study of the same vaccine will also take place in Tanzania at the same time.
Facts about HIV/AIDS
Affects: Over 33 million people around the world are HIV positive, and two million die each year.
Caused by: A virus transmitted through bodily fluids.
Problem: There is no cure, only anti-retroviral medicines, which are very costly.
Latest advances: A major vaccine study was presented last autumn in Thailand that demonstrated how a combination of two vaccines could provide 30 per cent protection against HIV infection.
Text: Cecilia Odlind. Published in "Medicinsk Vetenskap" no 1 2010.