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Encouraging results for Swedish HIV vaccine

Published: 19 Oct 2009 08:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Oct 2009 08:19 GMT+02:00

A Swedish HIV vaccine, Hivis, has shown the best preliminary results the world has seen so far, according to experts.

“These are the best preliminary results I’m aware of for a vaccine of this type,” European Union (EU) vaccine expert Manuel Romaris told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“It’s extremely interesting. The Swedish researchers seem to be on the right track.”

The new Phase II study, which analyzed the vaccine’s effects on people’s immune systems, is to be presented at an AIDS vaccine conference in Paris on Monday.

The healthy test subjects in Tanzania who received Hivis developed specific immune cells which destroy HIV-infected cells in the body, as well as anti-bodies to fight the HIV virus strain included in the vaccine.

“It’s really an unexpected result. The vaccine is safe and it creates an immune defence,” professor Britta Wahren, a virologist at Karolinska Institutet, and one of the researchers behind the study, told the newspaper.

The results indicate the Swedish vaccine may even provide better protection than a promising Thai vaccine unveiled on September 24th.

"We hope that our vaccine could increase protection to 50 percent," Wahren told AFP.

The vaccine in Thailand tested by Thai and US researchers cuts the risk of HIV infection by a third, an achievement described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a "significant scientific advance."

"Our vaccine includes more strains of the virus -- from Europe, Africa, the US and Asia -- and therefore provides a broader protection," Wahren said.

The Swedish vaccine was tested on 60 healthy policemen in Tanzania in what is called a Phase II study, an interim phase between when a vaccine is tested on a very small group of volunteers to assess its safety, and a Phase III trial, a large-scale investigation among thousands of people that focuses especially on effectiveness.

The researchers looked at whether the vaccine was safe to use and how the body's immune system reacted to it.

The results were so encouraging that the researchers are keen to carry Phase III testing, Wahren said.

"We don't have the financing to do that yet. But we hope that we will get it after presenting our results," Wahren said.

Despite the promising results, it remains too early to say whether or not Hivis can serve as an effective defence against HIV.

The Phase II study, which has yet to be published in a scientific journal, was carried out in cooperation with researchers in the United States and Tanzania and cost around 35 million kronor ($5 million).

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) contributed 9 million kronor, while the European Union provided the remainder of the funding, according to DN.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:09 October 19, 2009 by izbz
Good news for a change instead of extremist and Swedish pastors. Keep up the great work!!! Hope they will find a cure for HIV soon. Swedan has definately one of the reserchers.
14:12 October 19, 2009 by Nemesis
This is good news. The sooner that retrovirus is defeated, the sooner relgieous extremists will be shown to be liars.

Sweden has a very good molecular-biochemistry, bio-informatics, bio-medical and genetics base. Their peer reviewed papers are in all the major journals.

This will give prestige to hard working Swedish scientists who deserve more recognition for there work.

The researchers involved ability, creativity and perserverance, are an example to us all.
14:47 October 19, 2009 by eZee.se
"The sooner that retrovirus is defeated, the sooner relgieous extremists will be shown to be liars."

What?

What has HIV got to do with " relgieous extremists"?
14:57 October 19, 2009 by just a question
well, I guess one of the main purposes of any religion is to tell you not to have sex.

If you have sex and enjoy it, God punishes you.

So if you don't catch aids, God will find the way to punish you with some other illness.

So the vaccine has nothing to do with religion cause the main illness is God
15:03 October 19, 2009 by Texrusso
Karolinska Institutet remains the top Medical School in Europe! Good news indeed! And if a cure is found. You will find crazy human have sex again like animals :-)
19:00 October 19, 2009 by Nemesis
@ ezee.se

The religeous extremists keep claiming it is punishment from the social construct created by man, called 'god'. It is a virus that during its evolution has led to it becoming dangerous to primates.

Virus's evolve all the time. Religeous extremists refuse to accept evolution. Virus's are proof evolution exists, otherwise once a virus is cured, it would not change. Virus's do evolve over time and are still are evolving, as they will do for all time.

Hopefully HIV and other diseases will be cured soon. Then we can start moving society away from the superstitious nonsense created by the judeo-christian-islamic-satanist financial organisations that masquerade as churches and charities, that are basically control freaks trying to destroy lives.

The people who have opposed condoms in the various churches, should be tried in the International Court of Justice, for all the deaths that there deranged beliefs have caused.

HIV has taken millions of lives worldwide, most of whom are to poor, weak, unempowered or disenfrachised to have a voice. If this vaccine works, it will potentially save the lives of tens of millions.

The news that this retrovirus may be soon preventable, is very good. I congratulate the researchers involved.

If proven to prevent HIV, the researchers will deserve more than a nobel peace prize, as they will have prevented a holocaust, caused by ignorance, bigotry of societies leaders, bigotry of religeous leaders and lack of education, which allowed the virues to spread so far, so fast.
20:25 October 19, 2009 by mkvgtired
Nice going Sweden!! This is a great advancement considering how long AIDS has been a threat to the global society.
22:02 October 19, 2009 by SwedishRice
"If you have sex and enjoy it, God punishes you."

Are you serious? LOL. God does not punish us, we punish ourselves by not following His rules. It's simple but then someone like you whines as though you're being forced into submission, when in fact, its our own fault. People lie and they lie about not having STD. So, find someone you're dumb enough to believe in their vain "honesty", have sex with them, get infected, and there you go. And who's fault is it? Certainly isn't God's or the religious extremeists. And unfortunately this virus has been passed onto folks that were not in a sexual situation to get it like blood transvusions.

As for me? I am not dumb enough to fall for some drunk girl in a bar just so I can have sex with her. I am not stupid. I'd rather go home alone than to risk my life for a one-night stand. No thanks. But a huge "thank you" to Karolinska Institutet for doing great work. I hope this is the one.
05:24 October 20, 2009 by Marc the Texan
I've fallen for drunk girls in the bar lots of times. And God always makes sure to reward me with a happy ending.

Here's a tip though. Never hold on to the safety rail on a bus or train. God hates safety and punishes the people who touch those railings with the flu. Just a word to the wise.
06:17 October 20, 2009 by norling
I tip my hat to Sweden if the vaccine is a success. The religious wrong in my country have been preaching for years that it is the scourge of god. I don't see where people can become more promiscuous than they already are, at least they can do it safely without condoms, never liked them, I detected from an earlier post on this thread that you have extremest preachers in Sweden? Wasn't aware of that.
07:29 October 20, 2009 by Nemesis
Opnce HIV is preventable and curable, hopefully some researchers will start looking for a vaccine for religeous deveotion.

That would wipe out a lot of ills on this planet.
09:05 October 20, 2009 by thelionking
Positive news on HIV developments is always welcome news. Well done Sverige

The ONLY thing, NOT sitting right with this in my head,being...why test subjects are Tanzanians??....All sorts of images pop to mind I am sorry to say.
11:18 October 20, 2009 by Nemesis
@ thelionking

Simple.

Tanzania has a higher concentration of HIV carrying people than Sweden. Best to get into the middle of it, instead of chipping away at the edges. Also HIV2 is the biggest killer, not HIV1 the strain we have in the west.

It makes more sense to tackle the most common strain first.
11:56 October 20, 2009 by thelionking
Yeah ok Nemesis...

But nay, not so SIMPLE.

Is nt this a vaccine???

i.e the test subjects need to be free of the virus. Subsequently, these virus free test subjects are vaccinated and then some kind of "controlled" infection needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of vaccination....nes pas?

I have no doubt the scientist have their hearts in the right place on this one no doubt. My only little..little thought is of how sometimes we absolutely kick off here when we here of animal testing.

Somehow, testing on the poor of India, Africa does nt resonate the same emotions in people. I think it is sad. Thats all.
15:25 October 20, 2009 by Nemesis
There is no controlled infection. That would be illegal and unethical.

They vaccinate those most at risk in a high risk group, then monitor there infection rate, in direct comparison to a control group that has the same risk. They monitor to see if the infection rate is increased, stays the same, is reduced or stops altogether. Only then do they know if it works. It is a long process.

As for animal testing, I am all for it in controlled laboratory conditions, for the purpose of saving human lives.

Most vacciness go through an animal phase, before reaching a human phase.
17:09 October 20, 2009 by thelionking
Like the response :-) Nemesis

NB.I did invert the commas around infection. And I clearly dont know so much as yourself on the subject. Thanks for your intelligent contribution thus far.

Yes must agree that it would be dodgy to deliberately inject someone with a deadly disease. However,exposure to the disease is critical in determining trials success surely?

My discomfort with this being, the convenience of these test subjects; compared to say...local subjects? for example. Issues of contract, compensation and welfare - all these would make Tanzania (for example) much more 'suitable'.

I have worked in the asbestos trade and am aware of a 'class action' against "a" European mining company for the misery inflicted on tens of thousands of African workers who have contracted asbestosis. There was a time when hundreds of asbestos mines were in operation all over Africa. Many people have just simply perished due to the illness and no one said "boo" The class action will never see the light of day because big corporations have pretty good lawyers on the whole 'Legal and Ethical' question.

So anyway these (African) people can look forward to sweet FA.

However, in the EU/ States etc..it is not so easy to ignore those affected by such. We have better welfare and are generally better at doing our dirty work at a safe distance like Africa, poorer Asia and of course using animals. Should you be negatively affected then record breaking compensation is there especially for asbestos for example. This situation feels much the same. I could actually be wrong and it would nice if I was actually wrong. BUT I smell a rat for this apparent altruistic behavior because I am aware that commerce and politics are the human qualities that tend to drive such things.
21:58 October 20, 2009 by Nemesis
@ thelionking.

In this case I do not smell a rat.

The researchers are concentrating on HIV2, a strain which is very rare in Europe or the USA. It affects mostly the impoverished and uneducated. HIV1 affects mostly Europeans and North Americans. If this vaccine works, it may not work on Europeans and North Americans.

In Africa due to the Catholic Church and other organisations preaching against safe sex and condoms, HIV is spreading like wildfire.

The reason so many of the people in the trials will be exposed is due to the religeous lunacy that prevails in Africa, no matter the researchers actions.

It is well known that researchers into HIV do go out of there way to educate the local population. There is always clashes with religeous people over this.

This si people actually trying to help those on the ground who are to weak to help themselves.

These researchers are trying to reduce the death toll. The Asbestoes companies kept research covered up for years. There is a very big difference.
11:51 October 21, 2009 by thelionking
Morning Nemesis

Applaud your faith in corporations.

The British Journal of Medicine (BJM)...The Food and Drug Agency are full of informative discussions. NOT!

Asbestos trade is/was not alone in cover ups of this description.

Have you heard the one about Nestle and Mrs Mugabe?
15:45 October 21, 2009 by Nemesis
@thelionking,

This is nothing to do with corporations or conspiracy theories. It literally is a group of researchers who think they may have made a potential breakthrough regarding the HIV strain of HIV, which mostly affects mostly Africans.

If it does actually work, few will make money out if it as most of the people who are most at risk have no money to pay for anything.

Most likely a charity funding group like the Melinda and Bill Gates fund will end up picking up the tab if it actually works and distribute it for free. Several large charity funds have stated in the past if someone finds a vaccine for HIV they will pay for it, for all of Africa. They will be reminded of that if it works. No one will make money here.

If this vaccine proves sucessful, it will help tens of millions of poor Africans and literally stop one aspect of the suffering in Africa in its tracks, for once. That would be a welcome change of direction for all Africans.

The researchers are funded directly by the Swedish government, not big business.

Big Business is only interested in the HIV1 strain of HIV as it affects mostly white people in Europe and the USA, who are on average significantly more affluent. Big Pharma has no interest in researching strains that affect Africans as they would be deemed non profitable.

For once this has the potential to be a win win for all.

The Irony that the poorest could be helped first, is not lost on me. I welcome that change.
16:56 October 21, 2009 by Sameth
As thelionking said, interesting and intelligent discussion so far. I would like however to correct or precise some of the things that was said.

HIV2 is not the biggest killer, at the contrary it is much less pathogenic than HIV1 and this "swedish" vaccine is targeted toward HIV1.

HIV have a enormous number of variants (strains) which make it very hard (impossible?) to develop efficient vaccine against all of them. And as Nemesis suggested, it is true that many HIV strains are found mainly in Africa/Asia and not often in "western countries" and that was/is a big problem both logistically and maybe for "corporate motivation" to develop vaccine(s) against these strains. However, the good part with this current vaccine is that it use several different strains which, potentially, could mean protection for a broader population.

Now, without entering into too many details, according to me, this news on this vaccine is mainly a PR stunt to secure more fundings for continuing its development. Nothing wrong with that in regards to how hard it is too finance research (so I hope they will succeed) but I am afraid that it raised too much hope in regards to what it actually is! It has a lot of potential but no protection has yet to be found. So please, continue to protect yourselves! :-)

Concerning thelionking understanble ethical concerns, the first thing that you need to know is that this vaccine was first tested in Sweden. Also, as it was explain, the choice of Tanzania is motivated by the need to have people with high risk of exposure, which sadly means often an African country.

One last thing, there is no good animal model for HIV and it is another obstacle for the development of therapie.

Sorry for the long post!
17:26 October 21, 2009 by thelionking
Yes very welcome change!! I absolutely agree.

Africa has many issues..disease, bad governance and yes, little money but its certainly NOT poor; but thats another discussion we may have someday.

Forgive my sceptisism. I tend to read articles about 'good faith' missions to the "3rd World" with suspicion.

As I said my own work experience has a lot to do with that.

If what you say is true that MICROSOFT has come to Africa's rescue,then

1. I have to eat my words on corporations

2. What the f"@k have W.H.O (World Health Org) and UNESCO been doing all along??

- but may be a discussion for another time too.

Cheers for your smart contributions on this one fella/ "fellaress"
14:40 October 23, 2009 by JonnyDee
The truth of the matter is that despite trillions of dollars spent, noone has cured anything of real value since the 1960's when Dr. Jonas Salk developed subsequently gave away his vaccine against polio. Solving a disease means you cant make money off it anymore!

Sweden and much of the rest of the world have decided to give up on trying to benefit humanity and instead have followed capitalism's lead, which basically looks at how much money can be made first, and if it makes sense, then it'll be done.

I commend these doctors for coming up with this research, but I wont be surprised one bit if the day before they solve it & have found a cure for HIV that some giant, multi-national pharmaceutical company, swoops in, buys them out and we never hear another word about it.

Remember, Capitalism is about making money over everything else, and there is more money in "hoping for a solution" than "solving it".
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