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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Successful HIV vaccine trial shows promise of future protection from virus

While I was stuck in traffic today heading back to Napa, I caught a blip of an exciting medical breakthrough from PBS News: While yesterday's announcement, about a trial one-two combo of HIV vaccine, only showed a 31 percent effectiveness, it is the first time an HIV vaccine showed effectiveness.
The protection provided by the vaccine is far too low for distribution, said Bernstein, so the trial was not a home run, but as the results are analyzed it should provide the field cues as to where to focus efforts next...

Particularly surprising to researchers and experts was how the vaccine prevented infections, but didn't reduce viral load...

A vaccine would normally need at least an 80 percent level of prevention to be licensed, said Johnston, but if an HIV vaccine with that level of protection can eventually be developed, she said it would "make a meaningful difference in millions of people's lives."
One of the researchers quoted in the article mentioned how on the news of the vaccine trials success their heart skipped a beat. I know everytime I hear news like this, mine does too. It offers so much hope, especially after--as the article also points out--such disappointments as the 2007 calling-off of the Merck HIV vaccine trial (which, after originally being the most promising treatment of the moment, had to be called off when found to actually raise the rate of infection in some people).

And, in similar news, from the Miami Herald, a University of Miami researcher is hot on the trail of developing a vaccine for those already infected with HIV, that would be a once-yearly shot and replacement for the 2 and 3 drug cocktails of anti-retroviral therapy commonly used today (successfully, but with a huge expense and potential for nasty side-effects.

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