A vaccine developed to tackle simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) seems to have cleared the virus from infected monkeys and could lead to research into an HIV vaccine for humans, Pink News reports.
A study published in the science journal Nature noted the vaccine cleared an aggressive form of the virus, SIVmac239, from the bodies of nine out of 16 monkeys, the report says.
SIVmac239 is more deadly than HIV, with monkeys succumbing to infection within two years of being exposed to the virus.
“It’s always tough to claim eradication — there could always be a cell which we didn’t analyze that has the virus in it. But for the most part, with very stringent criteria . . . there was no virus left in the body of these monkeys,” says professor Louis Picker of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University.
According to the BBC, the vaccine is based on another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which belongs to the herpes family.
The BBC report says Picker and his fellow researchers are trying to determine why the vaccine worked in only about half the monkeys.
“It could be the fact that SIV is so pathogenic that this is the best you are ever going to get,” Picker suggested. “There is a battle going on, and half the time the vaccine wins and half the time it doesn't," he said.
Researchers now want to explore whether a similar approach can work in humans.