In a new study, researchers have developed a promising vaccine that clears an HIV-like virus.
The vaccine has been tested on monkeys and now is closer to human testing after a new version of the vaccine has been shown to provide similar protection.
The research was conducted by Oregon Health & Science University and other institutes.
The new HIV vaccine uses a form of the common herpes virus cytomegalovirus, or CMV.
The new version was live-attenuated or weakened so CMV couldn’t spread as easily.
It still managed to eliminate the monkey version of HIV, in 59% of vaccinated monkeys.
That result is similar to earlier findings involving the vaccine’s original, non-attenuated version.
The immunity generated by the attenuated vaccine was also long-lasting, as nine of 12 vaccinated monkeys could still fight off HIV infection three years later.
In addition, most vaccinated monkeys that are protected against HIV can also be protected against a second challenge years after the initial vaccination.
The team says having an attenuated version of the vaccine is key to being potentially able to use it in humans. No vaccines use non-attenuated live viruses due to safety concerns.
Though humans are often infected with CMV without any trouble, the virus can wreak havoc on those with weakened immune systems such as people with organ transplants.
It’s also dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause congenital defects such as hearing loss and microcephaly in babies.
The team says the study provides potentially important insights into the design of a human CMV-based HIV vaccine.
The new version of the HIV vaccine has good durability that would be very important for a human HIV vaccine.
One author of the study is Klaus Früh, Ph.D. from Oregon Health & Science University.
The study is published in Science Translational Medicine.
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