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IowaStatePhiPsi 12-01-2004 08:14 PM

HIV Vaccine on the way?
Human Test: Novel Vaccine Stops HIV

Treatment Turns On Anti-HIV Immunity, Holds AIDS Virus in Check

By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson, MD
on Monday, November 29, 2004
More From WebMD

Nov. 29, 2004 -- It worked in mice. It worked in monkeys. And now in humans, a therapeutic vaccine has stopped HIV in its tracks.

The vaccine is made from a patient's own dendritic cells and HIV isolated from the patient's own blood. Dendritic cells are crucial to the immune response. They grab foreign bodies in the blood and present them to other immune cells to trigger powerful immune system responses to destroy the foreign invaders.

HIV infection normally turns these important immune system responses off. But animal studies show that when dendritic cells are "loaded" with whole, killed AIDS viruses, they can trigger effective immune responses that keep infected animals from dying of AIDS.

Wei Lu, Jean-Marie Andrieu, and colleagues at the University of Paris in France and Pernambuco Federal University in Recife, Brazil, tested the vaccine on 18 Brazilian patients. All had HIV infection for at least a year. Their T-cell counts -- a crucial measure of AIDS progression -- were dropping, meaning their disease was worsening. None was taking anti-HIV medications.

After getting three under-the-skin injections of the tailor-made vaccine, the amount of HIV in the patients' blood (called the viral load) dropped by 80%. After a year, eight of the 18 patients still had a 90% drop in HIV levels. All patients' T-cell counts stopped dropping.

The findings appear in the December issue of Nature Medicine.

"The results suggest that [these] vaccines could be a promising strategy for treating people with chronic HIV infection," Andrieu and colleagues write. "The significant decrease of viral load as well as maintenance of ... [T-]cell counts observed at one year after immunization are particularly promising."

The researchers warn that their study is only proof of principle. It's still not clear which patients do best with the vaccine, although there's evidence that vaccination should be given as soon after HIV infection as possible. Only clinical trials comparing people who get the vaccine to those who don't can show whether this vaccine really is an effective AIDS therapy.

Similar approaches are being explored for the treatment of cancer and long-term viral infections such as hepatitis C.

Phasad1913 12-01-2004 08:20 PM

I had heard about this yesterday. I hope this is true. I am wondering why there hasn't been more news about it, though. Seems to me like it should be the most highly covered story on the news. :confused:

IowaStatePhiPsi 12-01-2004 08:26 PM


Originally posted by Phasad1913
I had heard about this yesterday. I hope this is true. I am wondering why there hasn't been more news about it, though. Seems to me like it should be the most highly covered story on the news. :confused:
especially since it's World AIDS Day.

Betarulz! 12-01-2004 09:40 PM

This is good news, and I think it's important since it doesn't rely in creating a resistence to AIDS which mutates much too rapidly to create an effective vaccine (at least from what I've read).

I think part of the lack of coverage might be because it was a very small study, and they really dont' want to get people's hopes up, especially since the study was small. Also, only a year post-procedure is not very long.

Rudey 12-01-2004 09:42 PM

I have seen tons of articles about drugs/vaccines for all sorts of diseases. Do you know why it doesn't get frontpage coverage? 1) It's a science/med piece and nobody cares enough about those and 2) because nothing is proven and most of these drugs/vaccines end up getting tossed out.

When it's proven to work then it'll get more coverage.


honeychile 12-01-2004 09:47 PM

This is wonderful news!!! ANY step towards a vaccine is a step in the right direction! That it seems to be working on cancer & HepC is just icing on the cake!

I have a friend who is a nurse in Africa, and pretty much her entire case load is AIDS patients. We've got to find some way to halt this killer before the entire continent is completely devastated.

DeltAlum 12-02-2004 01:44 AM


Originally posted by Rudey
When it's proven to work then it'll get more coverage.
I tend to agree. In addition, the U.S. tends to be extremely conservative when it comes to legalizing drugs developed in other nations. That's good in some situations and bad in others.

Let's just hope and pray that this really works this time.

PhiPsiRuss 12-02-2004 03:54 PM

If this is the real deal, someone's getting a Nobel Prize.

IowaStatePhiPsi 12-15-2004 12:41 AM

Rutgers researchers may have stopped HIV
Associated Press
Piscataway, N.J. — Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a trio of drugs they believe can destroy HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to a published report.

The drugs, called DAPYs, mimic the virus by changing shape, which enables them to interfere with the way HIV attacks the immune system.

Tests conducted in conjunction with Johnson and Johnson have shown the drug to be easily absorbed with minimal side effects. It also can be taken in one pill, in contrast to the drug cocktails currently taken by many AIDS patients.

“This could be it,” Stephen Smith, the head of the department of infectious diseases at Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark, said. “We're all looking for the next class of drugs.”

A research team led by Rutgers chemist Eddy Arnold pre-published details of the most promising of the three drugs, known as R278474, last month in the electronic edition of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Full details will be published in the journal in early 2005.

Dr. Arnold, 47, has worked at dismantling the AIDS virus over the last 20 years. He uses X-ray crystallography, a technique to determine the structure of molecules, the smallest particles that can retain all the characteristics of an element or compound.

The research has targeted reverse transcriptase, a submiscroscopic protein composed of two coiled chains of amino acids. It is considered HIV's key protein.

“Reverse transcriptase is very important in the biology of AIDS,” Dr. Smith said. “If you can really inhibit reverse transcriptase, you can stop AIDS.”

The optimism about R278474 stems from its potential to interfere with an enzyme that the virus needs to copy and insert itself into a human cell.

“We're onto something very, very special,” Dr. Arnold said.

Dr. Arnold established his lab at Rutgers' Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine in 1987. His current 30-member research team is partnered with Johnson and Johnson subsidiaries Janssen Pharmaceutica and Tibotec-Virco NV.

An important advancement in Dr. Arnold's research came in 1990 when Belgian scientist Paul Janssen was added to the collaboration. Dr. Janssen, considered a drug pioneer, published a paper that year that described a new drug that blocked reverse transcriptase but caused resistant strains of the virus to pop up too quickly.

Dr. Janssen sought out Dr. Arnold, who used crystallography to detail the structure of RT. Their work ultimately led to the RT inhibitors.

“We may eventually win the war against HIV/AIDS. That would be an extremely rewarding and satisfying outcome,” Dr. Arnold said.

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