SPAIN is to conduct one of the biggest clinical trials into a vaccine against HIV – the virus that causes AIDS.
This pioneering clinical trial is known as AELIX-003 and will involve 90 participants who have started early antiretroviral therapy after being infected with HIV.
Patients will continue to receive antiretroviral therapy at the start of the study and will be closely monitored to ensure their HIV viral loads are kept under detection limits.
They will then be vaccinated, with their antiretroviral treatment being suspended to see if the vaccine is effective in keeping their HIV levels under control.
The clinical test is to see if the vaccine is as effective in humans as it has been in apes.
Although the pace of HIV research is very fast, a cure for AIDS – which develops after HIV infection – is still a “great utopia” in the words of José Alcamí, director of the AIDS Immunopathology Unit at the National Microbiology Centre.
Alcamí insisted that it is impossible to give a date for a cure: “Because it is not possible to predict the time of the discoveries. It can be tomorrow or never.” In addition, he explained that we are facing a “gigantic challenge” because no virus that has infected the nucleus of cells (such as the one that causes herpes, papilloma, hepatitis B or retroviruses such as AIDS) can be eliminated “because it is installed in the genetic memory of our body.”
However he added that HIV treatments and research have proven to be effective in treating other disease, including helping find a cure for Hepatitis C.