Scientists in Shanghai have claimed a breakthrough in the search for an HIV vaccine, and clinical trials on humans may begin within three years, reports Shanghai Daily:
Scientists from the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences, say they are the first in the world to use fruit fly cells to produce HIV-1 virus-like particles which then successfully generated immunity in mice. The HIV-1 virus is the most common strain of HIV viruses.
Virus-like particles resemble viruses, but are non-infectious because they do not contain any viral genetic material.
So far, VLPs have been successfully developed into vaccines for the prevention of infection by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the human papilloma virus (HPV), the cause of cervical cancer.
[Paul Zhou, a leading scientist in the team] said that current methods of producing HIV-1 VLPs had many limitations but his team developed a novel strategy to produce them using fruit fly cells.
In the laboratory, mice injected with the HIV-1 VLP developed an immunity against the HIV virus.
Zhou said his team’s method of producing the VLPs boded well for the development of a vaccine against HIV-1.
“In the next step, we will do tests on monkeys.
“The success of monkeys will pave the way for clinical trials on human beings.”