Scientists got closer to HIV vaccine

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BANGKOK - JULY 18: A nurse prepares the AIDSVAX B/E vaccine for injection July 18, 2002 at the Boon Mee Clinic in Bangkok, Thailand. Some 2,500 uninfected intravenous drug users at risk of HIV-1 infection are being tested at 17 different clinics in Bangkok on a volunteer basis during the Phase III trial to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have engineered an on/off switch on to a weakened strain of HIV. With the help of it they are going to spread the virus throughout someone’s body, before deactivating the strain after it has immunised the host. Around 35 million people have died of AIDS since the epidemic began, while 36.7 million are HIV+ according to the WHO figures. A weakened virus is generally preferred by scientists because it has the potential to produce a stronger and longer-lasting immunity in patients. However, weakened viruses – as opposed to deactivated viruses – still possess the ability to replicate. That means that people who want to be immunized have a risk to be infected instead. The Nebraska researchers began tackling this problem in 2014, and the technique they’ve developed and written a study about earlier this year could be one of the safest anywhere. “Safety is always our biggest concern,” said Wei Niu, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, who was one of six researchers on the study. In this case, (it means) we’re one step closer to generating a vaccine.”

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