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Five Patients Virus-free After Being Injected HIV/AIDS Vaccine

Update Date: Feb 25, 2017 07:30 AM EST

In a trial that has been conducted over three years at the IrsiCaixa Aids Research Institute in Barcelona, researchers have combined two innovative HIV vaccines with a drug used to treat cancer. One of the patients was found to be virus-free for seven months after the treatment. The virus was undetectable in five out of 24 participants and it stopped spreading through their immune systems.

Beatriz Mothe, lead author said her team was on the right path to developing a treatment that could offer an alternative to daily antiretroviral medication (ART). According to the UN, around 18 million people take ART to slow the progression of infections. Half of all the 18 million are reported to be living with HIV around the world.

The ART drugs are expensive; it can cause unpleasant side effects and is currently the method of suppressing HIV. Executive director of the Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, Mitchell Warren said "Long-term systems that don't require daily pill taking could really help accelerate getting 37 million people with HIV undetectable and not infectious."

Belfast Telegraph reported the researchers gave the HIV patients two vaccines designed to stimulate the production of white blood cells that can recognize and destroy cells that have been affected. The participants continued to take ART drugs for three years and their immune responses were monitored.

Then 15 participants received a booster shot of one of the vaccines including a cancer drug called romidepsin, which has been shown to flush out the virus.

The virus returned and began to spread again in 10 of the patients that resumed taking ART. Only five of them were free of the virus with no need to take daily drugs for a number of weeks. One did not need to take medication for seven months.

According to Daily Mail this is the first therapeutic vaccine that has bolstered the immune system in a meaningful way said Dr Steven Deeks, an HIV/AIDS clinician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

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