On the Agenda - HIV immunisation moves a step closer

A study by the vaccine and gene therapy institute at Oregon health and Science University has suggested that a vaccine could be developed to immunise against HIV. Published in the journal Nature, the trials were conducted using rhesus monkeys and still need to be tested on humans.

Solution: a vaccine
Solution: a vaccine

Why is it important?

At the moment there is not a vaccine to immunise against HIV. Traditional vaccines stimulate the immune-response system too late and create non-persistent vectors, which only fight viral cells once.

The findings

Using an animal model, researchers led by Dr Louis Picker injected the simian immunodeficiency virus (a primate version of HIV) into primates. They found that it made immune systems more responsive to fighting the HIV virus. The antibodies created also provided long-term protection against the virus due to T effector memory cells. Out of a control group of 24, 13 of the monkeys responded to immunisation, and 12 sustained long-term protection against the virus.

PR strategy

The in-house PR team, led by Nature Publishing head of press Ruth Francis, sent out embargoed press releases to leading science journalists a week before any research was published.

Media coverage

The research was picked up extensively by the UK press including The Guardian, BBC, News Hour, The Metro and the Scottish Daily Record.

86k people in the UK have HIV

1 in 4 people with HIV are undiagnosed.

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