Catalan researchers create an AIDS vaccine that can reduce HIV viral load up by three times

It is the most effective AIDS vaccine to date. It has been tested on HIV patients and reduces the viral load up by three times. It needs further test but in the future the new vaccine could replace the current retroviral treatments.

CNA / Lluís Vilaró

February 1, 2011 11:52 PM

Barcelona (ACN) .- The project HIVACAT, a joint research operation between Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic and the IrsiCaixa research centre, created a therapeutic vaccine that can reduce the viral load of HIV infected patients by up to three times. This is a personalised vaccine that reduces the viral load and never leaves the virus undetectable in the blood. The objective of the vaccine is to try to replace other types of antiretroviral treatments that are much more expensive, more toxic and need to be administered for life. Up till now, no other vaccine has been able to achieve this.

The project HIVACAT released the vaccine this past week to a group of patients with undetectable viruses that were undergoing antiretroviral treatment. They will be examined for the next year to see if they are able to control viral load just with the vaccine, which is created in a personalized way with the cells of the patients themselves. The goal is for patients to just use the vaccine and to stop using antiretoviral treatments that are more expense, toxic and must be taken forever.

The director of the research team for Infectious Diseases and AIDS of Barcelona’s Clínic Hospital Josep Maria Gatell pointed out that the bill for antiretroviral treatment in Catalonia can cost anything between 160 and 170 million. It is estimated that the cost of treatment is between 8,000 and 9,000 euros per year. However, the development of this vaccine is only € 3,000.

Dr. Felipe Garcia from the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Clínic Hospital said that the new vaccine is made with patient cells. The vaccine can boost defences of the patients and reduce the level of the viral load by up to three times. The doctor concludes that the vaccine is not “sufficient” and that it is not the ultimate “definite solution” to AIDS but for the moment, it is an alternative treatment and it has had a good response, which needs further tests.