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Scientists claim vaccine temporarily halts HIV growth

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Spanish researchers say they have developed a vaccine that temporarily stops the growth of HIV in infected patients, Agence France–Presse (AFP) reports.

The researchers' study, published in Science Translation Medicine, found that the effectiveness of the vaccine, tested on 36 people carrying the virus, declined after a year, AFP notes. The vaccine, which was developed using immune cells exposed to HIV that had been inactivated through exposure to high temperatures, caused a "dramatic drop in the amount of the virus detected in some patients."  

"After 12 weeks of the trial, the HIV viral load dropped by more than 90 percent among 12 of the 22 patients who received the vaccine. Only one among the 11 patients who received a control injection without the vaccine experienced a similar result," the AFP report says. "After 24 weeks, the effectiveness had begun to decline, however, with seven of the 20 remaining patients receiving the vaccine enjoying a similar 90-percent slump in viral load. No one in the control group of 10 patients experienced such a decline in the virus."

Felipe Garcia, a scientist at Barcelona University's Hospital Clinic, says he and his team gave "instructions to the immune system so it could learn to destroy the virus, which it does not do naturally," the report states. 

It took the team seven years to achieve the results.

"This investigation opens the path to additional studies with the final goal of achieving a functional cure – the control of HIV replication for long periods or an entire life without anti-retroviral treatment," the researchers say in a statement.

Landing image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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