Seropositive volunteers participated in what can turn out to be a revolutionary test, conducted in Belgium, at the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp University Hospital and Antwerp University, involving a new therapeutic vaccine that uses cells from their own bodies; the cells are then charged and reinjected into their system.
A cure for AIDS has not been found, and it has to be said that it won’t be found tomorrow. However, thanks to the remarkable developments in the field of medicine, patients infected with the HIV virus can now live relatively normal lives, especially if they find the disease in its early stage. Of course, if more funds would have been invested in actual research instead of marketing, we would probably be in a totally different situation, but that’s another discussion.
The main problem with the HIV virus is that it creates an insufficient response of the body’s own dendritic cells (DCs, or antigen-presenting cells), responsible for transferring the information from the HIV virus to the CD8 cells (cytotoxic T cell), thus causing the destruction of the infected cells. But hematologists, virologists and HIV physicians in Antwerp teamed up and found what looks like a valid solution to the problem: they have ‘charged’ the dendritic cells of volunteers with messenger RNA for HIV proteins.
Human testing was, of course, the next logical step, so six volunteers received a four time, four week interval injected dose of dendritic cells extracted from themselves. The effect was encouraging: the cells started to recognize the virus more and more effectively, without any visible side effect. However, one might argue that six volunteers is not a satisfying number, and also, the HIV cells are well known for their ability in dodging the CD8 cells, so it will practically be a race to see who can adapt faster and win the battle. Hopefully, it won’t be HIV.