New hope for an AIDS vaccine
Researchers at OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute believe they have discovered a promising delivery method to help make an HIV vaccine effective prior to, and perhaps after, infection
A new discovery at Oregon Health & Science University highlights an ingenious method to ensure the body effectively reacts when infected with the highly evasive HIV virus that causes AIDS. The same team of researchers has been utilizing this unique approach to develop its own HIV vaccine candidate, which has so far shown promising results in animal studies. This latest research finding will be published in the May 24, 2013, edition of the journal Science.
“A major challenge in developing an effective HIV vaccine is figuring out how to target this evasive virus,” said Dr. Louis Picker, associate director of the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, where the work was conducted.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
The researchers found that cytomegalovirus or CMV, a common virus already carried by a large percentage of the population, may hold the key. Picker and his colleagues believe an HIV vaccine equipped with a modified CMV vector might be able to both prevent infection (prophylactic vaccine) and effectively battle the virus even if applied post-infection in individuals with infections suppressed by anti-retroviral therapy. Moving forward, the research team hopes to utilize this new information to create customized CMV vectors with a broad ability to identify several components of HIV and then incorporate this component into an effective vaccine.
“We hope we can begin clinical trials in human patients within a few years,” explained Dr. Picker. “This new information gives us a much clearer roadmap for effectively targeting the disease which to this point has found ways to evade the human immune system.”