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Brazilian scientists to begin testing AIDS vaccine on monkeys

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists in Brazil say they have developed an HIV vaccine. They intend to start testing the vaccine on monkeys this year, a sponsor institution announced this week. The vaccine, known as the HIVBr18, was developed and patented by a team from the Medicine Faculty of the University of Sao Paulo, the Sao Paulo state Research Foundation says.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Brazilian team wishes to remind the public that at its current stage of development, the vaccine would not totally eliminate the virus from the body.

Scientists say that the vaccine would be able to maintain the disease at a low viral load, which would be low enough that the infected person will neither develop an immunodeficiency nor transmit the virus.

The trials using the monkey test subjects are expected to last at least two years.

"Our goal is to test various immunization methods to select the one capable of inducing a stronger immunological response and thus be able to test it on humans," Researcher Cunha Neto has been quoted as saying.

Provided adequate funding is available, the first clinical trials could then be launched, it added.

Work on the vaccine began in 2001. The research team, Edecio Cunha Neto, Jorge Kalil and Simone Fonseca say they plan to test it on a colony of rhesus monkeys provided by Sao Paulo state's Butantan biomedical research institute.

These particular monkeys were chosen for the test as their immune system is similar to that of humans. They are also susceptible to SIV (Simian immunology Virus), which is believed to have led to HIV when it crossed the species barrier.

SIVs are retroviruses able to infect at least 45 species of African non-human primates. Based on analysis of strains found in four species of monkeys from Bioko Island, which was isolated from the mainland by rising sea levels about 11,000 years ago, it has been concluded that SIV has been present in monkeys and apes for at least 32,000 years, and probably much longer.

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