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US: Overlooked research could lead to possible HIV vaccine for infants

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After examining decades-old data from clinical trials, researchers at Duke University announced last week that they may have a breakthrough on an HIV vaccine for infants.

In reanalysing data collected in a 1990s clinical trial on infants, where vaccines were found to be ineffective, researchers believe they have a breakthrough in a possible vaccine to prevent HIV transmission from mother to infant during breastfeeding.

Dr Genevieve Fouda, who lead the team that made the discovery, said that key antibodies were overlooked in the data from the 90s clinical trial.

According to Fouda, the data showed that nearly 50% of breastfeeding children in the trial developed protective antibodies when injected with the vaccine.

She said: “Our work shows that vaccinated infants can make long-lasting, potentially protective antibody responses.”

Fouda hopes the new discovery will prompt the scientific community to investigate infant infections.

She said: “There are important differences between the immune systems of infants and adults. What we hope is that the scientific community will consider investigating vaccines that are promising in pediatric populations.”

Last September, researchers at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University successfully cleared a strain of HIV from infected animals, paving the way for research into an HIV vaccine for humans.

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