HIV Update: The 'HIV Conserv’ Vaccine And Its Promising Results
A researcher has recently revealed that HIV patients may have just found themselves a new hope after several HIV patients have been treated in a small-scale clinical trial with the help of a therapeutic vaccine strategy that appears to have the ability of controlling the virus without drugs. It is said that a so-called 'HIV Conserv' vaccine has, for the first time, produced significant prolonged viral control in a large minority of recipients once they were taken off antiretroviral therapy (ART). The findings have been presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2017).
The 'HIV Conserv'
In one of her statements reported by Medpage Today, Beatriz Mothe, MD, PhD, of the Spanish AIDS research institute IrsiCaixa in Barcelona said that they go up and down but their HIV viral load remains relatively low. On the other hand, she explains that eight other patients in the trial immediately saw their HIV rebound after they stopped therapy and had to resume taking their drugs. Consequently, Mothe claims that by far, the results are the "first potential signal" that a therapeutic vaccine, in this case combined with a drug that activates HIV-infected cells and makes them a target of the immune system, can have a beneficial effect.
Furthermore, according to reports revealed by AidsMap, HIV Conserv vaccines contain selected antigens (immune-stimulating sequences of proteins or genes) from HIV that are highly conserved, which is where the name has originated from. Experts said that being highly conserved means that they are the parts of HIV the virus can least afford to change, and which vary little from one virus to another. Thus, the vaccines are said to consist of sections of proteins from different strains of HIV that have been stitched together, which, in turn, generates an immune response to HIV that the virus finds it hard to escape from.
Meanwhile, it was found that after three years of standard HIV therapy, the patients were given booster shots of another vaccine, MVA.HIV conserv, combined with romidepsin or commonly called Istodax, which is a drug that activates latent T cells that can harbor HIV. As of the press time, Mothe reveals that she and her team will allegedly continue to monitor the patients and to try to find ways to improve the outcome in future studies. Ultimately, another expert, Peter Hunt, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, who was not part of the study commented that the study is a measurable step forward.
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