Currently, there is not a vaccine for the AIDS virus, but things have been progressing toward an effective one for many years. An AIDS vaccine can be effective in two ways. Hopefully we can come up with a vaccine to prevent or delay illness in those already infected. A preventative vaccine is a substance introduced into the human body that teaches the immune system to detect and destroy a pathogen. Another way would be through a therapeutic vaccine to prevent or delay illness in those already infected.
The basic idea behind all AIDS vaccines is to encourage the human immune system to fight the virus. Early vaccine research focused on teaching the immune system to produce antibodies that would block the virus from entering human cells. However, products designed to work this way failed in clinical trials because the antibodies worked only against lab-cultured HIV, not against the strains of the virus.
Research has found that a small number of HIV infected people produce broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV. Those antibodies neutralize a high percentage of the different types of HIV. These antibodies are now the basis for new research into vaccine development.
There are several reasons that developing a vaccine is a difficult challenge for scientists. Currently no one has yet to recover from an HIV infection, so there is not a natural mechanism to imitate in a vaccine. Soon after being infected, HIV inserts its genetic material into human cells, where it remains hidden from the immune system. HIV also occurs in different forms and is constantly changing, meaning that HIV is highly variable. Another reason is that there aren't any good animal models to use in experiments for testing, except for the new research conducted by scientists located in Oregon.
There have been recent developments from scientists at Oregon Health & Science University in developing an AIDS vaccine in Rhesus monkeys. The scientists discuss cytomegalovirus, or CMV,...
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