Are We on the Cusp of Finding an AIDS Vaccine?

With the help of nonhuman primates (NHP), French researchers may be close to answering the nearly 40-year old riddle that is AIDS.

On July 6, AFP reported that scientists had successfully tested the vaccine dubbed HVTN705 or "Imbokodo" in monkeys, shielding them from infection and triggering an immune response. It now moves to the next phase where it will be tested in 2,600 women in southern Africa. The results from the trial are expected in 2021 or 2022.

While we must be cautiously optimistic that Imbokodo will be successful in humans, this represents a great leap forward, thanks to the assistance of NHP models. A Harvard Medical School professor notes in the article that in the nearly 40-year history of AIDS, this is just the fifth vaccine concept to make it to the efficacy stage in people.

The Independent, The Telegraph, Science Alert, and ScienceDaily also featured coverage.

Trump Picks HIV/AIDS Researcher as New CDC Director

President Donald Trump has named Robert Redfield as the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His appointment comes after former Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned following a POLITICO investigation revealing she had traded tobacco, food, and drug stocks while leading the agency.

Redfield, a clinical scientist and former Army doctor, co-founded the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He also previously served on President George W. Bush’s HIV/AIDS advisory panel and in various advisory roles at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The decision has been criticized because of Redfield’s earlier research and views, controversies that POLITICO highlights in coverage of his appointment. He has, however, received the support of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who said in a statement, “Although I seldom agree with the Trump administration, I am in complete agreement that Dr. Bob Redfield is the best choice to lead the CDC."

Researchers Hope Studies with Monkeys Yield Vaccines for HIV, Other Viruses

The mythical opening of Pandora’s box resulted in the release of diseases, many of which science has conquered and found new and innovative treatments to manage them.  Once of great concern, Polio, Measles, Typhoid fever, and Yellow fever, are now no longer worrisome due in part to medical achievements with nonhuman primates (NHP).  But a great deal of work remains and researchers at NABR’s 380 institutional members continue to strive to find a vaccines to eradicate HIV and other infectious diseases.

Highlighting this research was a posting by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) explaining the irreplaceable role that monkeys play in scientific discovery.  They alone mirror the biological process of infections in humans because of their similar genetic make-up.  Being 98% genetically similar to humans makes them uniquely suited for these critical studies.  While there is currently no cure for HIV, the virus can be managed by a “drug cocktail” of antiretroviral therapy (ART) medicines.  This is certainly something to be proud of but researchers haven’t quit the hunt for a vaccine to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.  In fact, researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) will be taking an exciting HIV vaccine, developed and tested with NHP’s, to clinical trials in humans soon.

Please take a moment to read FBR’s posting and to share your thoughts in the comment section.  Also, please share this report with your friends, family, colleagues, and on social media to help communicate the vital importance that animal models still play in biomedical research and testing.

Thanks to Primates, OHSU Researchers Are One Step Closer to Killing HIV in Newborns

There is exciting and promising news coming out of Oregon Health & Science University.  According to a KGW.com report, researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center have discovered that a genetically engineered antibody can hunt and kill HIV.

Genetically engineered antibodies were administered 24 hours after primates were infected with the HIV virus.  The findings were amazing.  “This is really a complete, 100-percent cure basically,” said Dr. Nancy Haigwood, Director of the Primate Research Center.  By the end of the study, six months later, the primates showed no infection.  Each year, 200,000 children are born to mothers with HIV and this new development, hopefully, will help prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

To read the news story on this development and to see Dr. Haigwood’s interview, please click here.