By James Bryce
IT is a virus that affects more than 33 million people worldwide and is responsible for the deaths of around 1,600 people in Spain each year.
But a team of Spanish scientists could be on the verge of a major breakthrough in the battle against HIV.
Trials on the virus that causes AIDS – using a group of 30 non-infected humans – produced a 90 per cent immune response, clearing the way for further tests on HIV-infected volunteers.
The tests – carried out to determine whether a healthy immune system can react to the vaccine – found 85 per cent of those who received the vaccine maintained their strong response to it for at least a year.
Six of the 30 volunteers received a placebo instead of the vaccine.
The MVA-B vaccine is composed of non-infectious HIV genes and is designed to train the body’s immune system to recognise and fight the virus.
The researchers, from the Spanish National Research Council’s National Biotech Centre, hope the vaccine will eventually reduce HIV to ‘a minor chronic infection.’