An HIV vaccine for adults may be on its way after a vaccine was administered on monkeys with an HIV-like virus, especially in light of a new, weakened version of it proved to offer similar protections from the original version.
In the Science Translational Medicine journal, published July 17, papers were written that highlight how the attenuated vaccine was weakened so the herpes virus cytomegalovirus could not be easily spread. The new vaccine version was able to get rid of SIV (monkey HIV) in 59 percent of the animals.
The result was similar to findings that involved the non-attenuated, initial version. The attenuated vaccine also improved the immunity in nine of the 12 monkeys, as they were still battling against the SIV infection three years after the injection.
With an attenuated version of this vaccine, there is a chance for it being used on humans. There are no vaccines with non-attenuated live viruses because of safety issues. Humans with non-complicated CMV may find that a virus can cause problems in people who have a weakened immune system (organ transplant patients). Pregnant women are also at risk because of the dangers of congenital defects such as microcephaly and hearing loss.
According to Dr. Klaus Fruh, an OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute professor, the research offers some good insights into the development of human CMV-based HIV vaccine. With attenuated CMV, this version offered the same kind of immune responses as the vaccine’s non-attenuated version.
The new work shows that most vaccinated rhesus masques were protected against SIV, and the initial vaccine continued to work for years afterward. Fruh said it was a strength of durability that could pave the way for human HIV vaccine.
Vir Biotechnology, Inc. has licensed the CMV vaccine, and it plans to set up a clinical trial for a human type of CMV-based HIV vaccine. The platform will also be used to develop a tuberculosis vaccine.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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