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An HIV Therapeutic Vaccine, aka a Cure, Inches Forward

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Two-fifths of participants in a clinical trial were able to successfully stay off their HIV regimen.

University of Oxford researchers completed a clinical trial that demonstrated the T-cell therapeutic HIV vaccine AELIX-002 had better control of the virus when antiretroviral therapy (ART) was temporarily halted.

Mirage News reported that the study, whose full results were published in Nature Medicine, showed two-fifths of participants with no genetic background of spontaneous HIV control were able to stay off ART for the six months of supervised pause.

“This result provides further encouragement that active immunization against HIV may be possible, slowing HIV replication, providing a window of treatment holidays for people living with HIV and eventually leading to HIV cure,” said Tomáš Hanke, Professor of Vaccine Immunology at the Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Hanke also leads an HIV Vaccine Program at the Jenner Institute aimed at developing a vaccine strategy for the induction of protective T-cells that focus on the vulnerable and conserved regions of HIV. This encompasses trials in the U.K., across Europe, the US and Africa. 

AELIX Therapeutics developed the therapeutic vaccine, which combines with two other vaccines constructed at Oxford. Participants received several rounds of the vaccination before any interruption of ART. Forty-one of the 45 enrolled participants reached interruption of their drug regimen. A double-blinded trial issued 26 of those participants the vaccine and the other 15 a placebo.

Neither party knew the allocation until the study was completed.

Eight vaccine recipients were able to stay off ART, while all but one in the placebo group had to restart treatment before the end of the trial.

Hanke believes that T-cells and T-cell vaccines could play an important role in the final package for an HIV cure, and perhaps in other more difficult diseases, as well.

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