Can Immune Systems Be Trained to Fight HIV?

The focus of Cent Gardes International AIDS meeting was on the latest work toward building the body’s immune system to control HIV without the help of drugs. Studies of HIV-infected patients whose infection was caught early showed some signs of resistance when those patients were removed from drug therapy for a short time. 

Other patients did not fare nearly as well, but the experiments have given insight into what immune responses are necessary for combating the virus and how to boost those responses. In fact, short therapy stoppages may even prove to be somewhat helpful to the immune systems of early detectees, because the resulting increase in HIV in the blood stream causes an increase in anti-HIV cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) white blood cells that remains after therapy is restarted. 

The same occurs in patients whose detection of the virus is in later stages, but there the CTLs seem to be ineffective in combating HIV. A possible solution is the creation of a stimulus that reproduces the effect of therapy stoppage in the form of a vaccine. 

The only such vaccine being tested at the moment is Remune, marketed by Agouron Pharmaceuticals and Immune Response, based on the research of Jonas Salk. Remune is a whole HIV particle without its infectious abilities, but its effectiveness is not yet conclusive. Remune-backed T-cells fight more strongly against HIV, but they cannot resist it totally.


Administration of inactivated virus may stimulate humoral and cellular immune responses, which may slow the replication of HIV-1 through increased immunologic control over infected cells or other as yet undetermined mechanisms. The use of inactivated virus could theoretically stimulate broader immune responses that are capable of suppressing more diverse strains of HIV than vaccines based on sub-units of the virus. REMUNE for Treatment of Multi-Drug Resistance in patients with HIV. Transisitioning REMUNE to a Preventative Vaccine for those at risk of contacting the disease or in South Africa where a preventative vaccine treatment is necessary where the risk to reward ratio favors vaccination with a whole killed vaccine approach. 

Remune NIH Trial Article, click this link:

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