HIV New vaccine which boosts body's immunity could lead to cure for disease

The ‘kick and kill’ strategy aims to eradicate the virus, by stimulating the immune system with a vaccine.

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play (The Guardian)
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Researchers have said that a new vaccine to stimulate the body’s immune system could offer a cure for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV).

The ‘kick and kill’ strategy aims to eradicate the virus, by stimulating the immune system with a vaccine.

Researchers believe the injection could flush out dormant HIV hiding in white blood cells with a chemical ‘kick’, allowing a boosted immune system to identify and kill the cells.

Developed by researchers at University College London, the University of Oxford and the University of North Carolina, the theory is based on a single patient case study.

Study co-author Dr. Ravi Gupta, of UCL, said the study shows that the immune system can be "as powerful as the most potent combination drug cocktails."

He however admitted that they were still a long way from being able to cure HIV patients but the "study takes us one step closer by showing us what type of immune responses an effective vaccine should induce.”

The study looked at a single 59-year-old man in London who was an ‘elite controller’, meaning his immune system could control HIV for a long period of time without his needing treatment.

He also had both HIV and myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

To treat the patient’s myeloma, his bone marrow was completely removed and replaced using his own stem cells.

When the bone marrow was removed, the immune system was severely impaired, allowing the HIV to re-activate and replicate. This caused the level of virus in his bloodstream to rise from fewer than 50 copies per millilitre to approximately 28,000 copies per ml before is immune system’s function returned.

When the patient’s immune function returned about two weeks after the transplant, the levels of HIV in his bloodstream rapidly fell.

His immune system reduced HIV levels at a similar rate to the most powerful treatments available, bringing them back down to 50 copies per ml within six weeks.

The researchers noted it is possible that an equally strong immune response in combination with powerful drugs could have cured the HIV completely, however they state that is far from certain.

Dr Nilu Goonetilleke, who began working on the study at the University of Oxford and is now at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also cautioned  interpreting observations from a single subject.

 

 

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