An HIV vaccine created by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University may be able to completely wipe out the AIDS-causing virus from the body, the university announced Wednesday.
The vaccine, under development at OHSU's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, is being tested by using a primate form of HIV, called SIV, which causes AIDS in monkeys.
Researchers hope an HIV-form of the vaccine candidate will soon be able to be tested in humans.
The journal Nature published the research results online Wednesday.
Dr. Louis Picker, the lab's associate director, said HIV infection has only been cured in "a very small number of highly-publicized but unusual clinical cases."
In those cases, people with HIV were treated with anti-viral medicines very early after the onset of infection or they received a stem cell transplant to combat cancer.
"This latest research suggests that certain immune responses elicited by a new vaccine may also have the ability to completely remove HIV from the body," Picker said.
The approach uses cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which is a common virus that doctors said is carried by a large percentage of the population. Pairing it with SIV had a unique effect, researchers found, and SIV-infected cells were sought out and destroyed.
Researchers said they were able to teach the monkey's body to better prepare its defenses to combat SIV, and they're hoping their modified CMV will have a similar result in humans.
"What we've shown is that not only does this vaccine control the infection, but it actually eliminates the virus from the body of the monkey," Picker said.
Grants from several organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are funding OHSU's research.
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