Barcelona, March 5: Five people with HIV are currently free of detectable virus and daily drugs after undergoing a vaccine therapy for seven months, according to a study. The therapy gives the immune system the tools to flush out HIV virus from body.According to Science Magazine New Scientist, the study took in 24 patients diagnosed with HIV in 2014. They were given two vaccines developed by Tomas Hanke and his colleagues at the University of Oxford. They were also given antiretroviral drugs (ART), then monitored to see whether the vaccines induced a strong immune response.
Mothe, who revealed the results at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle last week, says they will follow each participant to see how long they can control the virus themselves.
Mothe says her team is now working hard to unpick the mechanisms behind the response and simplify the treatment schedule. There’s a long way to go, she says, “but we’re on the right path”.
Most people with HIV need to take ART each day to stop the virus from replicating and causing damage to their immune system. These have to be taken over a lifetime because the virus can hide away in tissues such as lymphoid and gut cells; if ART is stopped, the virus quickly re-emerges from these cells. Although effective, ART is expensive, time-consuming and can cause nasty side effects.
If the treatment were to prove successful, the savings could be huge. Costs of ART in low to middle-income countries hit $19 billion in 2015 – despite having only reached half of the 36.7 million people infected with HIV. Since the epidemic erupted, over 35 million people have died while 36.7 million people are currently living with the virus globally.