The latest tool in the fight against HIV? Apparently, HIV itself, as one Maryland company prepares to test the virus against a "safe" version of itself following successful trials in monkeys.
The company, VIRxSYS, is basing its decision on a two-year trial in which monkeys were treated with a deactivated, "safe" version of SIV, the simian version of HIV. Monkeys were vaccinated and then, six months later, infected with SIV, only for 95% of those vaccinated to remain healthier than the control group. This is actually the second SIV trial of its type in the US; Harvard Medical School carried out a similar test a year ago, but didn't transfer the experiment to humans. VIRxSYS' Franck Lemiale is hopeful that the results of the monkey trial bode well for HIV testing:
These results give us the green light to proceed. We cannot be sure that this will work as well in humans, but this is the point of performing clinical trials.
Fight HIV with HIV: 'safe' virus proposed as vaccine [New Scientist]