Researchers claim to have found a vaccine that completely eradicates the virus that causes AIDS in some monkeys, breathing new hope into a cure for AIDS in humans in the near future.
The team from Oregon Health & Science University published the positive results in the journal Nature.
“It’s always tough to claim eradication – there could always be a cell which we didn’t analyze that has the virus in it,” Louis Picker, of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU said to the BBC. “But for the most part, with very stringent criteria … there was no virus left in the body of these monkeys.”
Roughly half the monkeys responded to the vaccine, which was created with a combination of a common harmless virus called cytomegalovirus or CMV. When exposed to SIV – the virus that causes AIDS in monkeys (the equivalent of HIV in humans), it triggered a response that was able attack the SIV.
“Through this method we were able to teach the monkey’s body to better ‘prepare its defenses’ to combat the disease,” Picker said in a press release.
The Oregon team is still determining why some monkeys didn’t respond to the vaccine while others did and further testing has yet to determine whether a similar vaccine will work in humans.
The team have recently licensed the CMV technology to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in the hopes that they will eventually sell it.