In trials, cold virus helps HIV vaccine do its job

By Laura Mize • Published: May 18th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The virus that causes the common cold may have some usefulness for humanity.

Scientists running trials in the United States and parts of Africa have attached an HIV vaccine to two strains of manipulated cold virus and tested the combination in humans. The cold viruses were meant to help the HIV vaccine infiltrate the body more effectively. The findings, by Harvard University researchers, were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

While it doesn’t mean that an HIV vaccine is near, scientists said the results show a better way to deliver a potential vaccine into the immune system. A total of 210 people participated in the trials, and researchers said the approach appears to be safe and well-tolerated. The trial results show that both of the vaccine-virus combinations induced the body to mount a significant immune response against HIV.

The vaccine regimens provoked two types of immune response within the body that are led by two different types of immune-system cells. Both are important for the body to successfully fend off disease. The fact that the vaccines activated both forms of response indicates that developers are on the right track in their work to create an effective HIV vaccine.

Each study participant underwent at least eight blood tests to allow study administrators to monitor response to the vaccines. These tests took place over the course of a year, and then stopped. Thus, the trial did not evaluate whether the vaccines provided any immunity against HIV beyond one year. As vaccine development continues, future experiments will analyze the potential for long-term protection.

Who knew cold germs could be so helpful?