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HIV: world’s first vaccine developed

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In 2021 alone, there were 1.5 million new cases and 640,000 deaths from HIV. More than 1 million new infections every year, and the trend is growing. The only positive fact is that mortality is decreasing with life-saving therapy which, however, not everyone can afford.  

 

The new hope comes from a study that tested the validity of an HIV vaccine. It appears to be able to stimulate the immune system to produce an antibody response effective against multiple viral strains of HIV. It all starts from the Env protein, present on the surface of the HIV virus, one of the most important for the infection of T lymphocytes . They are cells of the immune system, target of the virus. This protein has some regions very similar to components of our body, which is why the immune response is lacking or weak. One of these regions is for its fundamental function in the infectious process.

The researchers started from this and divided 48 HIV patients into two groups. The first group of 12 received placebo and 36 people received two doses of vaccine 8 weeks apart. One low dose and one high dose. The vaccine increased B-cell precursors of virus-neutralizing antibodies in 97% of the participants. There were no side effects.

The vaccine represents an engineered version of the Env protein designed to stimulate B cells to produce bnAbs. These develop during infection and are therefore few in humans. The aim of the vaccine is to enlarge the population of bnAb-precursor B cells to enrich the blood of patients with cells of neutralizing antibodies. This method would be useful not only for HIV, but also for influenza, hepatitis C and beta coronaviruses. Ideal would be a staged vaccination, an initial one to increase B cells. In short, a sequential vaccination.

So this vaccine should be the first in a series of injections, each containing a different HIV particle to train the immune system. As sequential vaccination proceeds, the molecules get closer and closer to those of the real HIV viruses, until the antibodies produced can bind to many different types. It’s a whole new way to think about a vaccine.

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Mostly HIV is transmitted during sexual intercourse , in contact with blood, sperm, vaginal fluid. 83.5% of reported cases see 44% heterosexuals and 39.5% homosexuals. The age range is that of young adults, 25-40 years old. 

  • World’s first HIV vaccine is on the way
 
 

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