Although a diagnosis of HIV has long been considered a worse case scenario, it is also no longer a true death sentence. With medical research getting better and more advanced every day, there is even more hope that a vaccine may eventually be created which will not only combat the virus, but ultimately eliminate it from a person’s system even before they are aware that it was there. The hope is that a vaccine such as this would not only combat HIV, but go so far as to be a cure for AIDS.
While all of this is not a reality as of yet, according to WIRED, the work that scientists are doing right now could eventually lead to such an effective vaccine. In a study published in Nature, researchers have found a rather promising vaccine that has been deemed effective on SIV infected monkeys. SIV is considered to be the monkey equivalent of HIV.
In the study, researchers used a drug which awakened the SIV in monkeys, this in turn made it easier for their new vaccine to then detect the virus and then ultimately eliminate it from the system. This is just the latest study which is part of a much larger “HIV-focused vaccinology” initiative. All of the studies are looking from the molecular level on up as they are being powered by both atomic scale engineering, as well as mountains of genetic data.
Some researchers are calling all of this a molecular revolution of sorts, with biologists working on a rational design that would see them creating a virus from the molecules on up and using this to also create more effective vaccines. It is about more than simple science and today, researchers are being allowed to get creative in order to find vaccines and cures.
However, even with creativity and hope, nothing with HIV is ever as simple as one might wish. Instead, the virus is something that most humans do not have a full-blown immunity to and even those individuals who develop “broadly neutralizing antibodies” are in a lower percentage. Scientists are looking at these antibodies as a sign of what could be possible moving forward and with so many studies ongoing, including the one lead by the HIV Vaccine Trial Network (HVTN), the efficacy of these antibodies is being determined in order to find the most likely route to a truly effective vaccine. While it may take more time before researchers find the answer to this virus, with so many resources devoted to finding more than just a cure, but a vaccine as well, it seems as if scientists have even more hope than ever before.
By Dorothea James