BOSTON, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- They protect us and our families from the flu, mumps, measles, and many other diseases, but figuring out a vaccine to protect against HIV is still a mystery. Every year, 50 thousand Americans are infected and close to 20 thousand die from the virus. Now, there’s hope on the horizon.
“Use a condom, every time,” Benjamin Perkins, HIV vaccine trial participant, told Ivanhoe.
HIV prevention expert, Benjamin Perkins stresses safe sex. As a gay man, staying disease free is important to him, too. He even volunteered for an HIV vaccine trial.
“I feel like ultimately the gold standard is a vaccine,” Perkins stated.
Fenway Health’s Dr. Kenneth Mayer is testing a new vaccine in humans. It uses a modified cold virus to deliver genetic material into the body that resembles HIV, but really isn’t. Thinking it’s the real virus, the immune system attacks.
“Laboratory studies so far suggest that this combination gives very strong immune responses,” Kenneth Mayer, MD, Medical Research Director at Fenway Health, told Ivanhoe.
Monkeys are helping scientists test a unique vaccine that could create an HIV blocking barrier in your skin.
“You would have a layer of a layer of antibody against that, that would protect the entry of the virus,” Marie-Claire Gauduin, PhD, assistant scientist at Texas Biomedical Research Institute, told Ivanhoe.
Texas Bio-med’s Marie-Claire Gauduin co-developed the stem cell based vaccine. The vaccine becomes a part of the immune system.
“This is a part of you now, because your stem cells are doing it for you,” Gauduin said.
As for Benjamin, he’s still HIV free. The vaccine he was given did not turn out to be the solution to preventing the spread of the virus, but he’s hopeful new vaccines will be.
“Maybe someday we’ll get a home run,” Perkins said.
Testing of the stem cell based vaccine in monkeys just started in January. Researchers tell us they should know if it protects the animals against the virus by 2015. If it’s approved for human testing, those trials could take up to six years. Meanwhile, recruiting for Dr. Mayer’s vaccine is going on right now at sites across the country. Go to http://hopetakesaction.org for more information on how to enroll.
If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at email@example.com