Dr Jean-Marie Andrieu and Dr. Wei Lu have demonstrated that a vaccine prepared from a patient's own blood can keep HIV viral load down far enough to allow CD4 immune cell counts to rise.
French researchers reported Sunday that an AIDS vaccine designed to treat the disease, rather than prevent it, has scored an initial success by suppressing the virus for up to a year among a small group of patients who tried it.
The vaccine reduces viral load but does not wipe out the virus entirely.
The vaccine was tested in Brazil on 18 volunteers who were already infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but who were not yet taking any antiviral drugs. After four months, the level of HIV in their bloodstreams had been reduced an average of 80 percent.
The vaccine would cost $4000-$8000 per year and have to be taken yearly. That would be considerably cheaper than anti-retroviral drugs and would probably have far fewer side effects than the drugs.
Cells called monocytes were extracted from volunteersí blood, grown in laboratory conditions and transformed into dendritic cells, which alert the immune system to possible infections. These dendritic cells were loaded with a chemically-inactivated preparation of HIV taken from the same person, and then transfused back into the trial volunteer.
In eight out of the 18, viral load fell by more than 90% (a one-log reduction) when measured one year after treatment, along with stable or rising CD4 counts. The other 10 also had reductions in viral load, but these were not sustained. Across the whole group, there was a statistically significant reduction of viral load over the course of the year and an increase in CD4 counts of around 100 cells/mm3 which returned over one year to baseline values. This contrasted with the six months before treatment, in which CD4 counts fell by an average of 100 cells.
While this obviously does not cure existing HIV carriers or prevent infections it will probably reduce treatment costs, reduce side effects (which can be debilitating and life-threatening), and reduce the burden and nuisance on patients of treating themselves.
Since wider spread use of a vaccine will reduce anti-viral drug use it will also reduce the rate at which drug-resistant HIV strains get selected for. So the anti-viral drugs will last longer for those who need them.
A vaccine that prevents new infections and a treatment that would totally wipe out HIV in a body would both greatly reduce treatment costs. Optimally effective medical treatments don't just make people healthier. They also almost always much cheaper than treatments that attempt to manage and control a medical condition without curing it entirely.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2004 December 08 07:28 PM Biotech Therapies|