New AIDS vaccine ‘cures’ 5 patients, report claims A vaccine, developed by researchers in Spain, helped five HIV patients remain virus-free seven months after taking the treatment, a report claims. The treatment allowed the patients to stop taking regular antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. ARV drugs are the current method being used to suppress HIV. However the scientists are yet to test the results in a large-scale clinical trial, a Daily Mail report says, adding the scientists claim the vaccine may be a ‘functional cure’. It is the first step towards success in a field that has failed to find a vaccine in the last 30 years, the report says. The scientists at IrsiCaixa Aids Research Institute, Barcelona, reportedly combined two innovative HIV vaccines with a drug that is usually used to treat cancer. They then administered the new vaccine into 24 participants in the research. After the 24 HIV patients were given the dose, the virus was undetectable in five of them. Its spread, the researchers say, was stopped by the immune systems. Even more interesting, one of the five patients went on to live without the virus and without taking ARTs for seven consecutive months, according to the researchers. “We are on the right path to developing a treatment that could offer an alternative to the daily antiretroviral drugs (ARTs),” says Beatriz Mothe, the lead scientist. ccording to the United Nations (UN), an estimated 18 million people across the world currently take ART drugs daily to slow down the spread of HIV virus. But these drugs, the scientist argue, are expensive and can have negative side effects. Also, patients are forced to swallow the tablets on daily basis, and in most cases for their entire lives, which can be tiresome. “This research had been carried out in small scale but findings are interesting and very important,” says Mitchell Warren, executive director of the Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (Avac). The scientists argue that in 2015 alone, provision of ART drugs to patients in low to middle-income countries cost US$19 billion. This means huge savings could be made if further research is proven to be successful.