Homepage / Technology / A scientific breakthrough offers hope for an AIDS vaccine
European equities seen lower with political instability in Germany Alibaba goes offline with $2.9 billion stake in China's top grocer Most citizens support military rule in the world's largest democracy Germany's withering stability is just a local issue German coalition talks collapse Asia set to open flat as investors focus on US tax reform How to find out what Facebook knows about you Three shady — and all too common — things that digital health startups do to make money The 2018 Buick Enclave nails everything customers want from a luxury SUV Steve Jurvetson was pushed out of his firm as the lines between personal and professional crossed This 32-year-old leveraged 3.7 million Pinterest followers to remodel and furnish her tiny house European cities battle fiercely for top agencies leaving UK China pledges another three years of 'toilet revolution' to boost tourism Argentina says it may have received signals from missing sub Gerry Adams to step down in end of an era for Irish nationalism Tax reform could come before 2018, so a strategist says buy these 2 stocks Google's new headphones promise amazing translation features, but they're really bad Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris as Macron plays mediator China says will work with North Korea to boost ties as envoy visits Cramer Remix: Amazon is the Death Star Cramer says homegamers should stay away from the red-hot Chinese IPO market Top VC deals: Stitch Fix, flying cars and retail robots used at Wal-Mart Applied Materials CEO: 'The future of competition' is changing, and it's fueling our business Cramer's game plan: Stay focused on the individual companies Nelson Peltz will bring 'fresh perspective' to P&G: CalSTRS Tesla's biggest bull sees $60 billion in revenue by early next decade Tesla is 'going out of business,' says former GM exec Bob Lutz Start-up factory Y Combinator is no longer working with Peter Thiel Tesla Semi claims a number of 'firsts' for trucking industry Two bills currently in Congress could impact Google and Facebook ad sales Profits don't matter for investors anymore, only whether a company can beat Amazon or Netflix Scientists claim to diagnose football-related brain injury in living patients for first time VC Bill Gurley says investing in healthcare is 'extremely dangerous,' but he's doing it anyway One of tech's most successful investors says Silicon Valley's unicorns need to 'grow up' Stitch Fix CEO says there are not enough female 'decision-makers at the top' Bill Gurley: Bitcoin is an 'incredible store of value' in much of the world Uber investor Bill Gurley: My firm was 'on the right side of history' for ousting Travis Kalanick Traders betting on Deere, these other stocks ahead of earnings next week Laser weapons developers 'riding the wave' created by Tesla, other battery innovators Apple just delayed its HomePod smart speaker until next year JPMorgan broke money-laundering rules, Swiss regulator says Wal-Mart says it’s preordered five of Tesla’s new electric trucks Venezuela's falling crude oil imports are a 'huge red flag' that could shock the market Investors are fleeing junk bonds in near record numbers, a troubling signal for the stock market Stitch Fix spikes more than 20% in debut after opening at $16.90 This Amazon seller lost $400k in attack from self-proclaimed 'virus of Amazon' Tesla event did not blow all of Wall Street's minds into an alternate dimension Foot Locker shares surge the most in 40 years after earnings beat Best gifts for the Android fanatic in your life Wall Street is freaking out as EA caves again to social media outrage over its ‘Star Wars’ game Cisco CEO Robbins: We are optimistic about tax reform Why Russia might actually be better off quitting the OPEC deal North Korea rules out negotiations on nuclear weapons Square shares rise after Evercore ISI says bitcoin test is innovative, upgrades stock Buyer beware, the Cisco rally could be nothing more than a short squeeze, strategist says CEO Les Moonves: CBS may not be able to stay out of the media deal frenzy much longer US housing starts surge to one-year high; permits up Only millionaires will pay higher taxes under GOP reform plan, Mnuchin says Why the CEO behind one of the largest cryptocurrencies left AOL and Yahoo for blockchain EA scraps controversial money-making feature in new 'Star Wars' game after fan backlash … for now Putin signs decree to increase Russia's armed forces to 1.9 million GE stock is a ‘screaming buy,’ a ‘spectacular opportunity,’ strategist says Italy’s populist parties ‘have put water into their anti-EU wine,’ says former leader Trader Talk: Big changes are coming to key indices you watch every day Competition with tech and other sectors is a prime concern for banks, Deutsche Bank CEO says ECB chief Mario Draghi defends e-commerce players like Amazon US department stores are killing themselves by not innovating, Harrods chief says Saudi officials reportedly offer freedom to arrested royals — in exchange for 70% of their wealth Carillion shares collapse after UK firm issues third profit warning Draghi says ECB has not hurt banks' profits Bitcoin adds $41 billion to market cap in 6 days as it hits all-time high of $7,998 Many ICOs are fraudulent, say men behind two top bitcoin rivals Artificial intelligence will have huge impact for oil and gas, Microsoft executive says Notorious Mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Toto Riina dead at 87 Beijing opened the door to international investors, and one domestic sector may be the big winner European markets set for a mixed open ahead of Draghi speech Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils a surprise new car: A ridiculously fast Roadster Tesla's new semi truck has a 500 mile range Tesla unveils electric semi truck, vowing to redefine trucking China minister warns against seduction of values by Western nations Defector reveals North Korea's serious parasite problem German coalition talks delayed until Friday — sources North Korea is 'on an aggressive schedule' to develop a ballistic missile submarine Asian shares expected to extend gains after US stocks rally Amazon quietly launched an app called Relay to go after truck drivers LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman: Trump is 'worse than useless as a president' Cramer: Thank Wal-Mart and Cisco's CEOs for their upside earnings surprises Indian finance minister says his country is on track to grow above 7% in 2018 A company Google sold to SoftBank just released a video of a robot doing a backflip Comcast is in talks with 21st Century Fox about buying major assets, sources say BuzzFeed IPO in 2018 unlikely as sales fall way short of forecast, report says A start-up fighting pirates with satellites just raised $70 million Square Cash users can now withdraw money from any ATM with their Cash Cards Facebook is making it easier for people to create video on mobile devices MongoDB had 'tremendous uncertainty' about going public, letter reveals Stitch Fix IPO sees orders coming in under range US FCC votes to loosen media ownership rules These stocks are trading at extremes, and they could go even higher Buy red-hot robot maker Intuitive Surgical, Goldman says The best gifts for the Apple fanatic in your life

Technology

A scientific breakthrough offers hope for an AIDS vaccine

Scientists are inching toward developing a vaccine for AIDS, an immunodeficiency disease caused by the HIV virus that currently affects 36.7 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

In a paper published in the journal Science in September, scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Paris-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi described a “three-pronged” antibody, engineered in a lab, that binds to three critical sites on the HIV virus. By attacking the virus from three sides, the “trispecific” antibody creates a roadblock that even HIV — known for its constant mutating — should struggle to circumvent.

“This is very impressive and really very exciting for people who are looking for ways to prevent HIV acquisition,” said Rowena Johnston, director of research at amfAR, a foundation that raises money for the study of AIDS.

Though therapies for HIV/AIDS now allow people to more effectively manage the disease, it still claims 1 million lives around the world every year and represents about $3.5 billion in annual U.S. health-care costs. The rate of new infections in the U.S. has fallen in recent years, to 37,600 in 2014 (the most recent year for which stats are available). But in Africa — where two-thirds of all new infections occur — there were 960,000 new AIDS/HIV cases in 2016.

Further alarming health advocates is the Trump administration’s decision to slash its global HIV/AIDS spending by 24 percent, leaving nonprofits like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation scrambling to make up the shortfall. “There’s no way to balance a cut in a rich country’s generosity,” said Mr. Gates in September.

The promise of an AIDS vaccine has tempted, but eluded, scientists for decades. It’s been 37 years since Margaret Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Ronald Reagan, infamously told reporters at the press conference announcing the discovery of AIDS that a vaccine would be ready for testing within two years. Twenty-one years after that, the New England Journal of Medicine — following the collapse of yet another promising phase-3 study — referred to the flagging search for an AIDS vaccine as “a Sisyphean onslaught of disappointments.”

HIV is spread through the sharing of specific bodily fluids — blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal or rectal fluids — which typically occur during intercourse or the sharing of intravenous needles. Once inside the body, HIV attacks a certain kind of immune-system cell known as CD4. By destroying these cells, the virus makes it harder for your body to fight off disease, increasing the risk of major illness from even minor infections.

But in recent years, scientists have discovered a kind of antibody in people living longer with the virus, which has reinvigorated the pursuit. Known as broadly neutralizing antibodies, these Y-shaped proteins — which occur in about 20 percent of infected people living with HIV for two or more years — helps defend against multiple strains of HIV and are thought to play a role in helping people fend off the infection. Multiple studies have since tested ways in which broadly neutralizing antibodies could help stave off HIV infection or slow its growth in those already infected.

More from Modern Medicine:
Growing old with HIV after decades of drug success
A party drug could become next blockbuster antidepression treatment
New cure under way for the 80 million people in US dealing with hair loss

Of course, the antibodies have their limitations. “Each individual antibody only binds to one very specific component of the HIV envelope, or the outer covering,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who helped oversee the new study. But HIV is constantly mutating, so no single antibody can hold off the virus for long. Eventually, the virus will happen upon a mutation that allows it to get around the protection provided by the single antibody.

What the NIH and Sanofi scientists did was combine three broadly neutralizing antibodies into a single compound. Johnston, who was not involved in the research, compared the approach with antiretroviral therapy, which has become the standard in HIV treatment by slowing the virus’ growth through a strategic combination of drugs. “If you’re only taking one type of drug, then your HIV would escape from that,” she said. “It’s possible two would work, but three really seals the deal.”

The redundancy of three different antibodies makes escape-by-mutation practically impossible. “HIV would have to come up with such an elaborate set of mutations to escape from all three of these antibodies simultaneously that it’s almost certainly not going to happen,” she said.

Combining three antibodies into a single compound — a remarkable feat of engineering, noted Johnston — not only provides greater protection against the virus but is optimized to move swiftly through the arduous FDA-approval process.

“It’s very complicated to get approval to do a trial in which you’re trying to combine more than one thing,” said Johnston. “If you’re trying to do drug A and drug B, the FDA would prefer you start out looking at just drug A and just drug B before they give you permission to put A and B together.”

The trispecific antibody circumvents that process — an ancillary benefit that Fauci referred to as a “bonus.” “We weren’t thinking about the FDA when we did this,” he said.

If it proves safe and effective in humans, the drug could be used both as a vaccine and a treatment for people already living with the disease. A phase 1 trial is now slated to begin in late 2018. If all goes well, it could potentially be on the market within the next three years.

Still, Fauci was careful not to overstate the significance of the current findings.

“This is a solid incremental increase in our capability of dealing with and preventing HIV infection,” he said. “It’s significant, but it isn’t completely transforming.”

That could change, of course. But only time will tell. “It ain’t a breakthrough till it works,” Fauci said.

By Douglas Quenqua, special to CNBC.com

Source: Tech CNBC
A scientific breakthrough offers hope for an AIDS vaccine

Comments are closed.