Researchers admit they are “mystified” by the “unexpected” results of a study that has found a simple vaccine block monkey HIV. In the trial, the vaccine not only stopped a group of rhesus macaques from becoming infected by Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, it also significantly restrained the number of SIV-infected cells present in monkeys already exposed.
While most vaccines trigger an immune response, this new SIV vaccine suppresses the CD4 immune cells. Because — as with HIV — SIV needs CD4s to proliferate the body, the vaccine prevents SIV from establishing an infection. Around half the vaccinated monkeys were either completely protected from SIV, or became infected but developed an undetectable viral load. In contrast, all the unvaccinated monkeys became infected.
While the study only involved just a few dozen monkeys, researchers say the results hold out hope for a new approach for developing HIV vaccines. Two safety trials are now planned for humans.
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