AIDS Vaccine Stops
Symptoms In Monkeys
WASHINGTON - US researchers have found a way to stop monkeys from developing symptoms of AIDS - and they say they're a big step closer to finding a new treatment for people.
The vaccine, developed by a scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, doesn't prevent infection but it does help in the production of T-cells, immune cells the body uses to fight off AIDS once infection has occurred.
Normally, the HIV virus eliminates these cells in patients, leaving them defenceless against deadly infections.
The vaccine was made using proteins from HIV and SIV, the monkey version of HIV.
The researchers used 20 monkeys in the study. Eight were given the real vaccine and the rest got a placebo.
Each was then infected with an AIDS-like virus that the team created for the experiment. Because humans are the only species to naturally develop AIDS after being infected with an immunodeficiency virus, the scientists needed to make an artificial virus.
The results of the tests were encouraging.
All of the monkeys that didn't get the vaccine became sick and half died within 140 days. But the vaccinated monkeys didn't get sick despite the fact that the virus quickly replicated after infection.
The researchers still don't know how long the effects of the vaccine will last. They think the monkeys will likely need further vaccinations to maintain the response.
The team hopes to test the vaccine on humans in the next few years.
The study appears in this week's issue of Science.
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