‘Patience and Urgency’ Necessary in Search for Effective HIV Vaccine, JAMA Says
The search for an effective HIV vaccine calls for "patience and impatience in equal measures," a "Medical News & Perspectives" piece in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association states. While the need for a vaccine has "never been more urgent," HIV vaccine research has become "painfully" slow, due to several "hurdles" in the process, including HIV's mutability in a person living with the virus and the "global diversity" of HIV strains, among others. JAMA summarizes the results of several studies aimed at overcoming these hurdles that were presented at the 13th Cent Gardes Symposium on HIV and AIDS Vaccines, organized by the Merieux Foundation, along with Aventis Pasteur and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. JAMA reports on the following study results:
- George Lewis of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, Md., described a strategy that involves creating "novel" immunogens based on glycoproteins in the virus' envelope, gp120 or gp140, and in CD4 molecules on human target cells. In studies with rhesus macaques, researchers found that fusing gp120 or gp140 to CD4 molecules created "broadly neutralizing" antibodies that will attack primary isolates from various HIV strains.
- John Rose of Yale University School of Medicine presented study results on a "Trojan horse" vaccine method that uses a genetically engineered attenuated version of a vesicular stomatitis virus as a vector for expressing two HIV proteins in order to create a "potentially protective immune response." Human trials of the vaccine, which performed well in animal trials, are in the planning stages, according to Rose.
- Ronald Desrosiers of Harvard Medical School's New England Regional Primate Center offered the possible solution of engineering a virus strain that is able to "undergo only a single cycle of replication in the host." Researchers lead by Desrosiers created genetically engineered strains of simian immunodeficiency virus that are capable of infecting an animal and undergoing a single round of replication, but cannot spread to other cells.