Leading programs for curing HIV/AIDS

Geneticist Facing a future where patients with HIV/AIDS and other conditions are cured, it’s crucial that next-generation HIV research looks beyond making that a reality. G-Vacc, launched last fall, aims to translate scientific advances…

Leading programs for curing HIV/AIDS

Geneticist

Facing a future where patients with HIV/AIDS and other conditions are cured, it’s crucial that next-generation HIV research looks beyond making that a reality. G-Vacc, launched last fall, aims to translate scientific advances into a vaccine designed to protect against a variety of rapidly mutating pathogens. This is a rapidly changing landscape in and of itself, with several new strains of the virus continuously emerging and strains that have been eliminated before reasserting themselves. But more importantly, it’s also true that about 70 percent of patients who receive a cure might eventually develop resistance to the new therapy. But a vaccine that spreads disease in its wake has never been attempted. The New England Journal of Medicine review says there’s no definite proof that the vaccine’s methods, such as the delivery system and protein splicing processes, will work, and that it may be too late to develop an effective version by 2050, in which cases of chronic infection and AIDS may be nearly nonexistent. By the end of 2020, the review says, it’s highly likely that there will be so few people dying from AIDS that the U.S. won’t even have classified the condition as a disease anymore, and coverage will be nearly universal. Given that history, says Gillian Stanis, director of J&J Tissue Technologies, or J-TMT, an arm of Johnson & Johnson that studies HIV, the reality is that the need to have a vaccine ready “for the next 100 years” is extremely high.

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