Progress on HIV

Two big stories this week dealing with HIV.

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First up, researchers at the University of Michigan Health System experimenting with different ways of introducing a vaccine – other than the traditional needle/syringe – have achieved success with a method involving a nasal spray. The process induces immunity not only in the mucosa (of the genital area too) but a full cellular immune response as well. The study included tests on mice using both HIV and smallpox. Summary and press release.

Next, a protein has been identified by scientists at the University of Montreal that confers protection against viral infection in certain people. This sounds pretty big. A single protein, called FOX03a, has been isolated and shown to promote the survival of memory cells that are responsible for ‘remembering’ viral foes. These are the cells that are normally destroyed by HIV in infected people. From the press release:

Beyond HIV treatment, Dr. Sékaly said his team’s discovery offers promise for other immune diseases. “The discovery of FOX03a will enable scientists to develop appropriate therapies for other viral diseases that weaken the immune system,” he said, citing cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis C, as well as organ or bone marrow transplant rejection.

Summary of main article.

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