Closer to an AIDS Vaccine?

HIV prevention model in mice has success at CalTech

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists have been trying to create a successful vaccine for AIDS for decades. Now, a new study on mice shows that an injection of protective antibodies may be the best way to fight the deadly disease.

The vaccine seemed to fight off HIV infection for a lifetime, at least in mice. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers hope to test whether it works in humans in the next couple of years.

"Speak with your doctor regarding HIV prevention."

The scientists used a method called Vectored ImmunoProphylaxis (VIP), where they injected a virus with an antibody gene into the legs of mice. Later, they found that the mice had created high levels of the antibody over the course of a year.

The research team then gave the mice extremely high doses of HIV intravenously and found that the mice appeared to be completely protected from HIV infection.

The researchers checked back in on the mice intermittently afterward and discovered that the mice had HIV protection for the rest of their lives. Still, the researchers aren’t sure if the results will be the same for people, said Dr. David Baltimore, president emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech, in a statement.

Scientists have been searching for ways to protect humans from HIV infection since the disease was discovered in the early 80s.

Other efforts to create an HIV vaccine focused on vaccinations that would help the immune system develop antibodies that would block infection or attack infected blood cells.

This latest vaccine is different because it gave the mouse antibodies to protect against infection, which meant the immune system didn’t have to create HIV-fighting antibodies on its own, said lead study author Dr. Alejandro Balazs, a postdoctoral scholar in the Caltech lab, in a press release.

About 34 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 1.2 million Americans live with HIV, and 1 in 5 is unaware that he or she has it, said the CDC’s latest report on HIV in America. This increases the risk of people spreading the disease.

This clinical study, funded by the federal government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was published online in the journal Nature.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 30, 2011
Last Updated:
October 21, 2012