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Biotech Science

HIV Vaccine Ready For Clinical Trials 385

Posted by Zonk
from the go-science-go-science dept.
amigoro writes with the happy news that a possible vaccine against HIV is nearing readiness for clinical trials. The compound could provide a 'double whammy' by not only inoculating the patient against future infection, but destroying an HIV infection in progress. "The vaccine is an artificial virus-like particle whose outer casing consists of the TBI (T- and B cell epitopes containing immunogen) protein constructed by the researchers combined with the polyglucin protein. This protein contains nine components stimulating different cells of the immune system: both the ones that produce antibodies and the ones that devour the newcomer."
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HIV Vaccine Ready For Clinical Trials

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  • by CodyRazor (1108681) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @12:42AM (#19943299) Homepage
    ...not HIV but full blown aids?
    • by jez9999 (618189)
      Then you've got a few weeks until you die from an opportunistic infection, at best.
    • Surely you have to be HIV negative before trying to prevent infection with a vaccine.
  • by Spyrus (633357) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @12:46AM (#19943323)
    http://vrc.nih.gov/clintrials/clinstudies.htm [nih.gov] These are ongoing safety trials at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Sad.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @12:50AM (#19943341) Homepage Journal
    People are just making crass jokes and whining rather than actually recognising that this is a great step in the right direction for finding a cure/prevention for AIDs. I hope that all the cynicism about drug companies ensuring it never gets out is unfounded...
  • by Liberaltarian (1030752) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @01:06AM (#19943411)
    Anyone else rather skeptical of the origins of the article?

    1. Google News isn't showing anything else on this (aside from this very /. post!)
    2. The claims it is making about the vaccine are astounding and are, unless you have a paid subscription to the single medical journal article referenced, unverifiable. Neither are there any quotes attributed to anyone.
    3. The site in question is not even a hard news site; it appears to however be chock full of dressed up press releases by non-profits.

    As promising as this "article" may read, there's no evidence that we should take these claims seriously.

    • after the clinical trials are done.

      We've seen these kinds of claims before (in HIV research, cold fusion, and many other areas).

      Here the only source is "a group of Russian researchers." How about some peer review before we get all excited?
    • by Jartan (219704)
      I'm somewhat skeptical too. I mean this isn't just an aids cure they are talking about. As far as I know the procedure talked about in the article is a dramatically new way to fight viruses if it's true.

      On the topic of pharmico's covering up a vaccine I don't find that likely. Vaccines are for people who aren't sick yet after all. An HIV vaccine would likely become a medical requirement for every 1st world country on the planet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have a subscription:

      http://pastebin.com/f406eb7f9 [pastebin.com]
    • by flashmorbid (890326) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @02:46AM (#19943827) Homepage
      The page itself is pretty obviously not a high traffic news site; i almost mistook it for a genric squatter site. This is all goooogle turned up http://www.citeulike.org/article/1423027 [citeulike.org] (that's not a squatter page either). The link from TFA is pretty legit, http://www.springerlink.com/content/h0u280742k2530 6p/ [springerlink.com]. Clearly a paper was written in some obscure Russian science journal and reprinted in english, and then this article surfaces out of the blue about said paper. There wouldn't be any quotes because the only source is the paper itself. Since the paper itself costs money to look at, and I don't know anything about the source journal, or how thorough its peer reviews are (not could I find anything out except from that one link from TFA), it's at least within the realm of possibility that the paper is exaggerated or even totally bogus. But jeez, look at all those names.
    • by zazzel (98233)
      OK, I checked the article source, since I have online access to the mentioned medical journal through my university.

      Well, apart from the fact that I study economics and business and therefore cannot a) know about the journal's reputation and b) the authors' reputation, the article does exist and ends with a rather optimistic conclusion.

      I don't have the time to even do some basic research on the authors' scientific merits (or at least check a citation database), but if YOU feel like doing that, I will glad

  • ... not only inoculating the patient against future infection, but destroying an HIV infection in progress.

    Shouldn't that be 'not only destroying an HIV infection in progress, but inoculating the patient against future infection'? If the current infection isn't destroyed, what is the use of future immunity? And does 'immunity' even have meaning in that case?

    • by grogdamighty (884570) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @01:37AM (#19943537) Homepage

      If the current infection isn't destroyed, what is the use of future immunity? And does 'immunity' even have meaning in that case?
      Actually, *most* vaccines on the market are designed to produce a response against future exposure rather than treating a current infection - that's exactly what immunity means in medical terms. It would be worthless to immunize against most diseases after they've been contracted anyway, since the body has already been presented with immunogens and should be developing a response; HIV/AIDS is a special case because of A) its success at avoiding effective immune response and B) its ability to destroy the immune response.

      An HIV vaccine would, depending on price and risks, most likely be distributed to those who do not yet have the disease but may be at high risk. Since some of the highest risk patients (people who engage in unprotected sex and IV drug users) are less likely to go tell their doc they need it, let's hope it gets cheap and safe enough to make it a mandatory childhood shot!

      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @03:32AM (#19944025) Homepage

        It would be worthless to immunize against most diseases after they've been contracted anyway, since the body has already been presented with immunogens and should be developing a response
        Just a comment: As far as I know, the only disease for which post-infection immunization works is rabies [wikipedia.org]. This is apparently because rabies travels so slowly, immunization can protect the central nervous system before the virus spreads there, even days after being bitten by a contagious animal.
  • The virus's life depends on getting around such a cure - it will evolve to evade the cure. In only takes one copy of the virus in one person out of millions to randomly have a resistant strain.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      Actually from the sound of it they're targeting the point of infection rather than the infection itself.

      I guess the analogy is similar to locking the door instead of leaving it unlocked and open. If the virus cant spread anywhere then it's going to die.
    • A vacine works by stimulating our system against a disease before it hits us. The problem is that most bugs do their damage before our immune system can do its job. In this case, they picked constant proteins for a reason. They are in hopes that HIV needs these to survive. We as humans can lose our arms and legs and still be considered human. But what happen if we lose our brains? Are we still human? Considering that our very definition of death is now based on brain death, says that is what makes us human.
  • Shweet (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aqua OS X (458522) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @01:31AM (#19943503)
    Slashdot: Curing AIDS once a month since 1997.
  • US has one of the most restrictive laws in the world in relation with Pharmaceutical patents. The Pharmaceutical Industry (PI) get the patents for so long that you have to pay great amounts of money because there are no generic alternatives. The governement authorizes abusive practices.
    In fact WTO tries to impose protections for the pharmaceuticals in "third world" countries. Any time US negotiate a new commerce treaty with any "third world" they impose those conditions.
    But has been some changes, in Africa
  • Not the first... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Sunday July 22, 2007 @02:11AM (#19943669) Homepage Journal
    According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], there are 17 candidates in phase I trials, four in phase I/II, and one in phase III.

    That same article mentions that there is a great degree of diversity in HIV, meaning one HIV vaccine won't protect against all strains.
  • by Guppy (12314) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @02:29AM (#19943753)
    As someone who has actually worked on an HIV vaccine (a plasmid-based DNA vaccine), I have to caution that the field is a graveyard of failed attempts, ranging from traditional vaccine methods a century old, to exotic cutting-edge variants. There is considerable skepticism that an HIV vaccine (even given a very elastic definition of "vaccine") is even possible, in part based on the apparently complete absence of any "natural" sterilizing immunity. At best, there exists a small population of non-progressors who are able to hold the virus at stalemate due to genetic variations in certain receptors, a mechanism that seems unhelpful as far as vaccines goes (although relevant to drugs, specifically entry-inhibitors).

    While VLPs (virus-like particles) are certainly a promising vaccine technology (the cervical cancer vaccine that's been in the news recently is VLP-based), I really am pessimistic that it is the solution to the substantial problems that any working HIV vaccine would have to overcome. At this point, I don't think anything will work short of somehow granting a patient's immune system innate resistance to HIV through some kind of gene therapy approach (there actually are people working on this sort of approach, but gene therapy as a whole has a long way to go).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ccbailey (859060)
      Particularly since the only effect discussed in the article linked from Slashdot seems to indicate that the vaccine produces in vitro neutralizing antibodies in a mouse model. As far as I know, neutralizing antibody titers don't have any ability to prevent or curb infection in vivo anyway. Seems a little early to be jumping to clinical trials.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @02:53AM (#19943847) Homepage Journal
    This article would have been timely (but no more accurate) a couple of years ago. The vaccine showed great promise, but the clinical trials were a flop. The drug was written off; the company lost a bundle.

    Mumble mumble making a vaccine for a polymorphic virus mumble - wish I hadn't bought that company's stock...

  • Terminology (Score:2, Funny)

    by Eesh (50408)
    "Double whammy", of course, being a professional immunological term.
  • by pcgabe (712924) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @03:18AM (#19943971) Homepage Journal

    I dunno how much AIDS scare y'all, but I got a theory - the day they come out with a cure for AIDS, guaranteed, one-shot cure, on that day, there's gonna be fscking in the streets, man.

    'It's over! Who're you? C'mere! What's your name, baby? No, it's over, yeah, woo-hoo!'

    Man, if you can't get laid on that day, cut it off.
    Bill Hicks [youtube.com]
  • If it works and it was truly an artificial virus then you could have the third whammy in the side effect that it would be distributed through unsafe sex and sharing of needles.

    Talk about an effective delivery system. HIV would be wiped out quicker than it got started (pretty dang quick)!

    But then I guess it would be hard to make money off of it. It really stinks how our society is driven by greed. Maybe I would change my mind on this if I was Oprah rich. Everyone PayPal me $5 towards making this happen :
  • I can't speak about the specifics of this vaccine, but one of my initial concerns would be that it would destroy the usefulness of the antibody-based HIV test--the one that is most commonly used to screen for HIV.

    This has been one of the controversies with tuberculosis for quite awhile (where antibody-based tests are also the most efficient), where being vaccinated with a partially effective vaccine you essentially destroy the ability to easily see if you are infected or not (I believe more sensitive tests,

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