American researchers may have made a breakthrough discovery in HIV prevention and treatment.
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California have developed a vaccine. It releases a protein that actively targets HIV. The vaccine prevents it from spreading, rather than training the immune system to fight the infection, according to the BBC.
The research team has developed the vaccine through a series of trials on infected monkeys. Those who were administered the experimental vaccination were protected from all forms of HIV for at least 34 weeks, the BBC reported.
Michael Farzan, the lead researcher and author of the study, told The New York Times that this new form of combatting HIV is “the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far.” He also said that “it is simpler and works better than the current method that scientists are experimenting with, which is giving monkeys cocktails of several different antibodies that each neutralize only one or two strains of HIV, sometimes imperfectly.”
Naturally, the team is eager to begin trials and administer the vaccine to human patients. However, there are a number of potential safety hazards that still need to be worked out before the vaccine is safe. According to the BBC, this vaccine does not operate conventionally. It makes alterations to a subject’s DNA as the genetic changes cause anti-HIV proteins to constantly shoot out into the human body, which may have negative repercussions.
Despite its potential, the vaccine is still in its infancy.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times and the BBC was used in this report.