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U.S. company Virxsys says using AIDS to fight AIDS

Maryland-based Virxsys Corp said tests on monkeys showed its HIV-based vaccine might at least treat infections, if not prevent them, and it is now seeking permission to try it in people.

And the privately held company is encouraged by some early results of a gene therapy approach to controlling HIV infection in people.

Neither result, presented to the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in San Francisco, suggests any immediate change in treating the fatal and incurable virus.

But AIDS research has reached a plateau, with little progress toward making a vaccine that can prevent infection and drugs providing new ways to control the virus coming on the market, but nothing remotely close to a cure.

"I think the vaccine is more the interesting one because it is far more doable in the end," said Dr. Joep Lange, who heads the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and who is a member of the company's medical advisory board.

"It doesn't prevent infection, but it does give good reduction in viral load," Lange, a former president of the International AIDS Society, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

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