September 11, 2012
"A paper published in Nature [on Monday] sheds light on how a vaccine can turn the immune system against [HIV] and so offer protection from infection," Nature News reports, noting "[t]he results are also being presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2012 conference in Boston, Massachusetts, this week" (Callaway, 9/10). Previous results from a trial called RV144 showed that two vaccines, Sanofi's Alvac and VaxGen's Aidsvax, reduced the risk of HIV infection by 31 percent over three years when used together, compared with people who received a placebo, according to Bloomberg (Bennett, 9/10). Last year, researchers showed "that those who responded to the vaccine and fended off HIV tended to produce antibodies against a specific part of the virus's protein shell called the V1/V2 loop," Nature News writes, adding, "The study published [Monday] goes a stage further, showing that the people who were vaccinated yet still contracted HIV had been infected by viruses that had mutations in the V2 portion."
Researchers will now look to improve the response against V2, and "[a] vaccine similar to that used in RV144 is set to be tested in South Africa and among men who have sex with men in Thailand in two trials that will begin around 2014," the news service states (9/10). "This is not going to happen tomorrow," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said, adding, "If we have the dream of eradicating HIV, we need a vaccine," the Center for Global Health Policy's "Science Speaks" blog reports (Barton, 9/10).
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