How Close Are We to a Vaccine for HIV?

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Well we certainly have made a lot of progress compared to where we were several years ago, but still vaccine is till one of the real pusiling scientific dilemmas because as someone who's directly or indirectly been involved in the development of many vaccines for many different diseases. This HIV/AIDS is a unique situation because one of the tenets of a vaccinologist is the best way to develop a vaccine is to have your vaccine induce a response that natural infection induces, because almost and variably you pick your disease polio, smallpox, measles, hepatitis, whatever, that natural infection when you recover from it, which if you a certain percentage of people recover from all of these diseases even the worst of them smallpox, 80% or more of the people recover.

So you've modeled your vaccine to induce a response that natural infection induces. So you already have a proof of concept that the body is already capable of making a response because they make it against natural infection. With HIV, unfortunately that's not the case, because the body does not naturally make an effective immune response against HIV, which is the reason why no one on record has ever spontaneously cleared the virus from their body, we have some people, a small percentage who are long term elite none progresses, they are infected but they don't progress.

It's a very, very small fraction. Most of the people invariably progress and when you look at their immune system response it isn't adequate to control the virus, the virus always beats the immune system almost always again with this very, very few exception. So we are faced with an interesting situation where we have to do better with the vaccine than what natural infection does.

That's been a tough nut to crack, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are doing much much better with that, but that is something that is, sets the attempt to get an HIV vaccine completely a part from how you would approach a vaccine against another infectious disease even a very serious infectious disease.