Johnson & Johnson, U.S. Military Make Progress on AIDS Vaccine
An experimental AIDS vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. military has shown progress in a recent animal trial. According to Bloomberg News, monkeys that received the vaccine were as much as 83 percent less likely to become infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) than were monkeys injected with a dummy shot.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School tested the vaccine in a study published online in the journal Nature. They say the encouraging results now have them planning on testing the vaccine in humans.
“There’s more hope now than ever before that the development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine is indeed possible,” said study leader Dan Barouch.
Bloomberg noted that the vaccine is the first to prevent monkeys from becoming infected with SIV; previous vaccines only helped to control the virus in monkeys already infected. A 2009 trial in Thailand prompted the development of the current vaccine, which works by first prompting the immune system to produce killer T-cells to hunt and destroy infected cells and then to produce antibodies to go after the virus itself. The body’s natural defenses are also boosted.
The development is the latest in a decades-long search to find a vaccine for HIV. Since the virus first emerged in the 1980s, scientists have been puzzled on how to fight the disease. While it is possible to limit the effects of HIV on the body, there is currently no cure and AIDS has gone on to kill an estimated 1.8 million people in 2010 alone.