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Biotech Science

Promising Norwegian HIV vaccine Tested 57

Posted by Hemos
from the see-how-it-works dept.
mkeke writes "The Norway Post is reporting: "A new Norwegian vaccine against HIV has attracted interest abroad, and is now being tested on 40 Norwegian HIV patients. The vaccine apparently helps to repair the patients' immune system, thus preventing the development of aids."
You can read it all here"
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Promising Norwegian HIV vaccine Tested

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  • article text (Score:3, Informative)

    by witte (681163) on Monday August 11, 2003 @08:25AM (#6664479)
    Promising Norwegian HIV vaccine tested

    A new Norwegian vaccine against HIV has attracted interest abroad, and is now being tested on 40 Norwegian HIV patients.

    -What we have seen so far, is that around 90 per cent of the patients have developed a new type of immunity which they did not have before joining the test project, says head of the project, Dag Kvale, Medical Director of the Ullevaal University Hospital in Oslo to TV2.

    The vaccine, which has been developed by the Skien based company Bionor Immuno, apparently helps to repair the patients' immune system, thus preventing the development of aids, TV2 reports.

    The patients will not be cured, but the new vaccine will possibly enable them to live with the virus without becoming sick with aids.

    In September, representatives from the US National Health Institute will arrive in Norway to discuss the possibility for testing the vaccine on several thousand US HIV patients.
  • by MacEnvy (549188) <jbocinski@NoSpAM.bocinski.com> on Monday August 11, 2003 @08:28AM (#6664491) Journal
    All the vaccine seems to do is allow people to continue to live with HIV for a longer time, without reaching full-blown AIDS. It's a nice step, but doesn't help with the main problem - that a significant portion of HIV cases are caused by ignorance and misbelief, especially in Africa. Furthermore, the places in Africa most hardly hit by HIV don't have enough money to buy cutting-edge treatments in the first place. They are too worried about food ...

    It's too bad the details are so scarce in the article. It would be nice to know exactly what this vaccine does (enhance T-cells, etc?). For the moment, this news isn't very helpful to the majority of HIV sufferers. I suppose any progress is progress, though.
    • Well thats all very well, however theres half a billion people in rich western countries countries that can contract aids from something as simple as a condom breaking. Now on Slashdot we are probably a very low risk demograhpic (its not transmitted by communal keyboard sharing), but people still can contract it via blood transfusions etc.
    • It's a nice step, but doesn't help with the main problem - that a significant portion of HIV cases are caused by ignorance and misbelief, especially in Africa.

      I would think that the main problem is actually that AIDS is killing millions of people directly and ruining hundreds of millions of lives indirectly as the economy suffers or they lose their family and friends. Improved education and a proper cure would of course be better, but if HIV could be made non-life threatening, I think that would be a ma

      • Improved education and a proper cure would of course be better, but if HIV could be made non-life threatening, I think that would be a major advance.

        If you don't have improved education or a cure then extending the lives of the infected is probably going to increase the overall infection rate.

        Don't interpret that as a value judgement.
        • If you don't have improved education or a cure then extending the lives of the infected is probably going to increase the overall infection rate.

          Which from the perspective of a shareholder in a pharmaceutical company with AIDS/HIV intellectual property is excellent news. If they can just prevent some rogue company from discovering a genuinely effective vaccine/cure for the virus itself they can keep raking in the profits until their patents expire.

          Even the companies themselves will openly admit that they
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The real problem is that we can't have sex with whoever we want. The disease is the problem, it's just exacebated by the fact that african's try to ignore it.
    • About poor countries who can't afford the ultra-expensive treatment there are interesting things like programs directed by the brazilian federal governmet that buy those medicines and distribute them for free. Althought it seems a good idea, the patent industry has almost shut down these programs. Beside the cientific frontier (on researching new treatments) and the educational frontier (enlightening citizens on how to prevent HIV), there is this political frontier everyone must be informed of and defend si
    • This is really scary. HIV mutates at a incredibly rapid rate because it is a single-stranded retrovirus with no means of error checking. Imagining an entire population of people infected with HIV and not dying scares the bejesus out of me. I know this sounds cold, but mutating HIV in such a population could yield even more deadly derivatives.

      • That's a very good point - that making these people "immune" to the effects of AIDS could cause certain mutations to occur at a more frequent rate within the individuals affected.

        I do find it amusing that you chose the wording "error checking". You must be a networking professional. Hooray for the 802.3 and LLC!
  • by TripleA (232889) on Monday August 11, 2003 @08:28AM (#6664494) Homepage
    and not some ultra-capitalist western cowboy-regime driven company who has come up with the vaccine. Thank's to the last part of Soviet, this vaccine may come to use even for the ones who need it the most (poor African and Asian countries) and not only the people who can afford it.
    • Would you care to explain what you mean by "the last part of Soviet" and how this relates to Norway? As far as I know Norway has never been part of the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact.
      • by TripleA (232889)
        It's a reference to Swedish minister Bjorn Rosengren on a business trip to Norway 1999-09-23 having said (roughly translated) "Norway really is the last Soviet state".

        And no, Norway has never been part of the Soviet Union.
    • What do you expect? Pharmaceutical companies to give away their products for free? These so called "ultra-capitalist western cowboy-regime driven compan[ies]" do actually have to pay for the research and development of these products, including getting the drug through length Q & A processes in each country in which they want to sell it. If certain countries actually paid their promised aid packages to third-world nations, then perhaps they might be able to afford the much-needed vaccines and medicin
      • In some countries, companies get research grants. The project in question is partially GAVI/Norwegian Research Council funded.

        And in some countries, pharmaceutical companies produce pharmaceuticals rather than the highest possible surplus.

    • I think it is worth stating that the ultra-capitalist western cowboy-regime driven country that hosts these ultra-capitalist western cowboy-regime driven companies is the one thay ends up paying the majority of R&D costs for these drugs. Reguardless of who develops the drug, the price in the US can be 5 to 10 times as expensive as other countries. Just food for thought.
    • [and not some ultra-capitalist western cowboy-regime driven company who has come up with the vaccine. Thank's to the last part of Soviet, this vaccine may come to use even for the ones who need it the most (poor African and Asian countries) and not only the people who can afford it.

      You couldn't possibly be talking about the same ultra-capitalist country who wants to give a 25 billion dollars [msnbc.com] to Africa while it's country is in the middle of a recession could you?

      Yes, the big evil US empire that allo
      • Listen to this guy when he starts cutting checks to those third world nations.
      • except only 3 billion got funded, and efforts by USAID orgs to educate about condom use- the most effective aids prevention, even in africa - are stiffled.

        as for those visas, they're also happen to be a huge boon in terms of cheep highly skilled labor for big campaign contributors [microsoft.com]
        • except only 3 billion got funded, and efforts by USAID orgs to educate about condom use- the most effective aids prevention, even in africa - are stiffled. as for those visas, they're also happen to be a huge boon in terms of cheep highly skilled labor for big campaign contributors [microsoft.com]

          news sources? Something to back up your argument please? Yes, the visa's provide cheap labor for big companies at the expense of American citizens...Is that a good thing for America or bad?

  • Vaccine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nycsubway (79012) on Monday August 11, 2003 @08:30AM (#6664508) Homepage
    Interesting use of the word vaccine. It seems that it actually helps stop the development of aquired immunodeficiency syndrome, but AIDS is not a virus.

    HIV is the virus, but the 'vaccine' does not prevent HIV infection, it helps stop the effects of the HIV. I think they mean it's a vaccine in the sense that it can prevent AIDS.

    An HIV infected person will still have HIV and can still transmit it to other people, even if they have had this vaccine.
    • Re:Vaccine (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Alereon (660683) on Monday August 11, 2003 @08:40AM (#6664567)
      The story is sparse on details, but it seems that it works to help prevent the onset of AIDS by allowing an individual to become partially immune to the immune-system-damaging effects of the HIV virus. Partially, since they still die eventually, but it helps. If, instead of a drug that acts on the virus itself, it stimulates an immune response, it would be classified as a vaccine, methinks.
    • I also find it interesting that they use the word vaccine, when nobody really knows if HIV is a virus, or even exists. It's fascinating, but try it...go on google and type, say "polio virus image." You'll find dozens of scanning electron microscope images of the virus itself. Here it is attacking a cell...here it is with a special dye so you can see these structures...etc. Now try it with HIV. "HIV virus image." You'll find pictures of cultures that the author says are infected with HIV, and you'll fi
    • This is a common technique when designing vaccines for HIV/AIDS. I've heard of several other HIV vaccines that got press as being able to suppress the disease.

      IANAI (I am not an immunologist), but I think that one reason researchers are taking that path is that it's easier to do trials. One problem with preventative vaccines for HIV is that because HIV suppresses the immune system, vaccines for it can tend to do the same and several have actually caused the vaccine recipient to contract HIV. Furthermo
  • Wording (Score:4, Informative)

    by cam_macleod (59140) <c.a.m@unRABBITb.ca minus herbivore> on Monday August 11, 2003 @08:44AM (#6664589) Journal
    Not to troll or complain, but isn't that technically a treatment, not a vaccine? Correct me if I'm wrong...
    • Re:Wording (Score:5, Informative)

      by 73939133 (676561) on Monday August 11, 2003 @09:56AM (#6665030)
      A vaccine is something that stimulates the immune system with antigens. Most vaccines are preventive, but this one happens to be a therapeutic vaccine--you give it after the disease has already started. There are a few other examples of therapeutic vaccines.
      • Re:Wording (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mattlary (595947)
        A vaccine is not something that stimulates the immune system with antigens, but rather an administration of pathogens which enable the immune system to deal with the illness. I invite you to look at the definition [reference.com] as defined at Dictionary.com.

        A true HIV vaccine would be given to individuals so that if they were to be exposed to HIV, their bodies would be able to fight off the virus.
  • Though the results are promising, it's important to be careful extrapolating out to larger populations. 90% of 40 people is "significant", but it still a small sample size. Small effects can skew the results pretty badly.

    It's nice to see AIDS vaccines working out, though. It's our best hope in the fight against the disease.
  • It's really amazing how AIDS drugs have progresses.

    It used to be that the doctors just pumped you full of antibiotics to keep infections away, then they created drugs to repress the virus, and now we can actuall repair the immune system.

    This is a great example of how research and developement (or even the scientific method) needs to work. It may seem like things are progressing slowly, but compared to (say) the fight against malaria, thing are progressing much more rapidly.

    • But isn't the (scientific) fight against malaria largely won? There are some strains of malaria that are drug resistant, but new drugs are quickly developed. The problem, as far as I understand it, isn't so much that we don't have effective drugs to fight malaria, but that they're simply not affordable to the third world where people need them the most.
  • by Jouni (178730) on Monday August 11, 2003 @04:33PM (#6669015)
    I'm surprised this hasn't already been pointed out, but Bionor Immuno [med.uib.no] is a "partially GAVI/Norweigian Research Council funded project" and GAVI is largely launched with the $750M grant [med.uib.no] from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    AIDS tamed with a helping hand form Bill? Stranger things could happen. I just can't imagine what they are. :-)

    I applaud the research and accomplishments of the project!

    Jouni

    • On scale Bill Gates is most likely the largest single donator to health charities in the world. Consistently....year after year....billions and billions of dollars.

      It is possible to have a business face and a personal face that are largely different. Even though most of the money for this is generated through the Microsoft machine.
      • Wanted to back up my statment, this is from the Gates Foundation website (sorry for formatting):

        Amounts in thousands

        PROGRAM AREA 2002 2001
        Global Health $506,984 $855,567
        Education 413,121 177,944
        Libraries 44,607 43,176
        Pacific Northwest 121,874 36,511
        Special Projects 70,141 33,403
        Other:
        Employee Matching Gifts/Sponsorships 738 356

        $1,157,465 $1,146,957

        The foundation has total net assets in excess of 37 billion.
    • If Bionor Immuno really does find a vaccine for HIV it will be the first Virus Bill slowed down rather than helped spread.
  • I cannot find any references with details of this vaccine. Based on the Norway Post, it is impossible to see if this is significant. Does anyone have more information? Is there a patent application, for instance?
  • A new Norwegian vaccine against HIV has attracted interest abroad, and is now

    being tested on 40 Norwegian HIV patients.

    What we have seen so far, is that

    around 90 per cent of the patients have developed a new type of immunity which they did not have before joining the test project, says head of the project, Dag Kvale, Medical Director of the Ullevaal University Hospital in Oslo to TV2.

    The 90% may seem like the treatment is a huge success. However, 40 patients is a very small sample size. It

  • think about it

    lets say you have AIDS

    are you a person who caught AIDS because of blood transfusions, operations, a cop who got bit by some infected addict, or are you someone who caught it from casual sex?

    if the latter, are you going to be very careful with using condoms etc. (are you even going to TELL your partners/potential victims you have HIV? I mean, hey, you look healthy, and are they going to say "yes" to sex with you (even with a condom) when you've told them you have HIV? In which case, are you

  • A bit of sleuthing came up with more details on the study. It was tested only on HIV patients, but it seemed to stimulate immune response, so perhaps it could be useful for those in high-risk groums who are not yet infected:

    Name of project
    IMMUNOTHERAPY OF HIV-INFECTED PATIENTS (CTN B-HIV-1/99)

    Short name of project:
    HIV Immunotherapy

    Relevant keywords describing the project:
    Immunisation, therapeutic vaccine, Phase I study, HIV, p24, peptides

    Principal investigator
    Name: Nina Langeland
    Title/Position:

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