A therapeutic vaccine was developed that can temporarily brake growth of the HIV virus in infected patients, a possible step forwards towards a functional cure, say a team of Spanish scientists.
A group of 36 people recorded the best recorded therapeutic result for therapeutic jab, based on immune cells exposed to HIV virus inactivated with heat, the team stated to AFP.
Felipe Garcia, of the Barcelona University Hospital Clinic said: ‘What we did was give instructions to the immune system so it could learn to destroy the virus, which it does not do naturally’.
The jab is designed to treat HIV rather than preventing it, was safe and led to a dramatic drop in the amount of HIV viral load in some patients, said the study, published Wednesday (2 January) in Science Translation Medicine.
Viral load dropped by more than 90 percent among 12 of the 22 patients who received the vaccine after 12 weeks of the trial.
Only one among the 11 patients who received a control injection without the vaccine experienced a similar result.
However, after 24 weeks, jab effectiveness declined, with seven of the 20 remaining patients achieving a similar 90-percent drop in their viral load. Non in the control group of 10 patients achieved such a decline.
After year the jab became ineffective and patients returned to their regular combination therapy of anti-retroviral drugs.
The vaccine allowed patients temporarily to live without taking expensive anti-retroviral drugs which in the long term sometimes has significant side-effects.
‘It is the most solid demonstration in the scientific literature that a therapeutic vaccine is possible.
‘This investigation opens the path to additional studies with the final goal of achieving a functional cure - the control of HIV replication for long periods or an entire life without anti-retroviral treatment.
‘Although we still have not got a functional cure, the results published today open the possibility of achieving an optimal therapeutic vaccine, or a combination of strategies that includes a therapeutic vaccine, and could help to reach that goal’, a statement by the team said.
The 7 year work by the team will now continue and focus on improving the vaccine and combining it with other therapeutic vaccines over the next three or four years.