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Fears over 'own goal' HIV vaccine revived

A new study has cast fresh doubts on an AIDS vaccine that was abandoned in 2007 because of fears that it made some recipients more susceptible to HIV infection. The new research is at odds with other studies that cleared the vaccine of responsibility.

The finding reopens the question of whether it's a good idea to base vaccines on the cold-related viruses called adenoviruses. In this technique, the otherwise harmless viruses are loaded with "vaccine" genes that make proteins identical to those in an infectious organism. It is being used to develop vaccines not just for HIV (PDF) but also for malaria and tuberculosis. Evidence that such vaccines make people more vulnerable to HIV infection would thus be a major blow.

The new study revives suspicions that adenoviruses cause an immune "own goal", priming people's immune systems to produce CD4 cells – the very cells that HIV prefers to infect – and, worse still, to direct those cells to the parts of the body that are most vulnerable to the virus during sex.
 
 

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