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Vaccine GP-120
Nov 25, 2001

I am reading some very hopeful things on recent vaccine development. I am wondering, is there some hope that these vaccines--one in particular (gp-120), may be thereputic for individuals already infected with HIV? If so, is there a possibility we may be able to go off of meds for a prolonged period of time and remain healthy? Thanks for any imput. signed, Hopeful

Response from Dr. Pavia

Dear Hopeful,

Immune-based therapy, including so-called therapeutic vaccines is a very exciting area, but it has not yet paid off. Therapeutic vaccines (as opposed to preventive vaccines) are those intended to be used by HIV infected individuals to boost the immune systems ability to control the virus. Hopefully, this would allow control without drugs, or with intermittent use of drugs.

GP-120 you refer to is probably the recombinant gp 120 vaccine that is in phase III clinical trials. It is made of the outer glycoprotein of HIV, produced through recombinant technology. Most vaccine experts are not very optimistic about this vaccine, at least used by itself. The reason for the skepticism is that this vaccine mostly leads the body to produce antibodies, but antibodies do not seem to play an important role in preventing disease progression. The current optimism is for vaccines which induce a response that looks like that made naturally in those people who progress very, very slowly without medications. These are mostly immune responses consisting of cytotoxic lymphocytes and HIV-specific CD4 cells. If it seems complex, it is, as are most things about HIV and the immune response. However, it is when we think we have simple answers for understanding HIV that we seem to make the most mistakes.

The vaccine science looks very exciting right now, but things are still moving fairly slowly.

Thanks for the question

ATP



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