Just last month, Dr. Picker and his team announced the development of a promising AIDS vaccine candidate which uses a unique method to stage an ongoing war against HIV
Here’s an excerpt from The Hindu:
Dr. Picker and his team, which included IAVI, set out to find a vector that would stay in the body for a long time, and came up with a form of the herpes virus (not herpes simplex) called cytomegalovirus (CMV).
In a 10-year project, they tested their idea on rhesus maqaque monkeys using monkey forms of HIV, called SIV, and of CMV. After exposure to a “highly pathogenic and aggressive” SIV, especially concentrated for the test, 13 of 24 monkeys became infected but managed to keep the virus from multiplying, researchers reported in May.
Twelve of the 13 were virtually virus free after more than a year, a development that IAVI’s Cook called “the most profound protection we’ve seen in an experimental vaccine.” The key was the herpes vector. The human form of this herpes virus is found in about 98 per cent of people in the developing world and about 60 per cent of people in the developed world, Dr. Picker said.
My favorite quote to help put this work in perspective:
Dr. Picker compares the challenge of finding a vaccine to a “very high, seemingly un-scalable cliff and so far efforts to climb it have not reached the top.” “What this work does is basically show a path to the top. We still have to put on our climbing gear and climb the path,” he said.
Here’s more info on the recent breakthrough: