Share13 February 2019The administration of the Italian therapeutic vaccine Tat against HIV / AIDS to patients on antiretroviral therapy (cART) is able to drastically reduce - by 90% after 8 years from vaccination - the "latent virus reservoir", unassailable by therapy alone , and opens a new way against infection. It is the result of the 8-year follow-up and published in Frontiers in Immunology, of patients immunized with the vaccine developed by Barbara Ensoli, director of the AIDS Research Center of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. Now, he says, "new perspectives" are opening up in the care.
"These are the results - states Ensoli - that open up new perspectives for a functional cure for HIV, a therapy that can control the virus even after the cessation of antiretroviral drugs. In this way, valuable opportunities for long-term clinical management are emerging term of people with HIV, reducing the toxicity associated with drugs, improving adherence to therapy and quality of life, problems that are relevant especially in children and adolescents, with the goal of achieving the eradication of the virus ".
The study is conducted in eight clinical centers in Italy (San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, L. Sacco Hospital in Milan, San Gerardo Hospital in Monza, University Hospital of Ferrara, Polyclinic of Modena, SM Annunziata Hospital in Florence, San Gallicano Institute - Institutes Hospitaller Physiotherapists of Rome, University Hospital of Bari) and presents the long-term clinical monitoring data of 92 vaccinated volunteers from the previous clinical study conducted by the ISS.
The research of an HIV cure, together with the prevention of infection, notes the Institute, is "an absolute priority of the international scientific community also for the vast resources that HIV / AIDS removes from the fight against poverty and inequalities in the world".
A 2018 study has, in fact, estimated at 563 billion dollars the cost of the fight against HIV between 2000 and 2015, and other studies have estimated in around -0.5% and -2.6% per year the negative impact on GDP in the countries Africans, with a loss of about 30-150 billion dollars a year. Huge figures that, according to the ISS, "impose urgent and innovative therapeutic solutions for HIV / AIDS"
"With Iss vaccine hopefully control without drugs"
"The hope of ISS researchers for their Tat vaccine is to allow vaccinated patients to control the infection for life without the need for drugs." This was explained by Giovanni Maga, director of the laboratory of Molecular Virology at the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Cnr of Pavia, commenting on the results of the clinical efficacy study of the Italian therapeutic vaccine against HIV infection.
"It is important to distinguish between preventive and therapeutic vaccines", explains the expert. "The first corresponds to the idea that we commonly have of a vaccine: a preparation that is administered to a healthy subject - he continues - prevents infection (or greatly reduces the risk) from the viral or bacterial pathogen against which the vaccine it is direct. Typical examples are vaccines against influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, etc. The therapeutic vaccine does not prevent infection, but is able to stimulate the immune system of the already infected person to react more strongly, enhancing and, eventually, eventually replacing, drug therapy ". And it is what seems to be able to make the Italian vaccine against HIV.
"Now the next step - says Maga - will be to verify if the vaccination alone is able to stop the replication of the virus, once the drug therapy is stopped. This is not obvious. An American therapeutic vaccine, always based on Tat, in a clinical study (TUTI-16) completed in 2012, he was not able to control the infection after stopping the therapy, and for the Italian vaccine, studies will be needed on a large number of patients, with related groups of control, to confirm or discard this hypothesis. If the results of this study are confirmed, they could lead to a new effective tool for the fight against AIDS ".