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Combined HIV, Hepatitis C Vaccine May Be Possible, Study Shows

Apr 14, 2016 07:52 AM EDT

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford gives a new ray of hope in the possibility of treating and preventing both human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C (HCV).

"This study shows for the first time that it is possible to generate simultaneous immune response against diseases HCV and HIV, raising the possibility of a combined vaccination," Professor Laurent Castera, EASL Secretary General, said in a press release via EurekAlert.

According to Science Daily, there are about 2.3 million people all over the world that are infected with both HIV and HCV. HCV is considered to be the leading cause of non-AIDS death in co-infected individuals.

At present, there is still no available vaccine for Hepatitis C while the development of the possible gene-editing cure of HIV has reached a certain wall.

"While we have drugs to treat both HIV and HCV, these are out of reach for many and do not prevent reinfection," said Professor Lucy Dorrell of the University of Oxford and lead author of the study.

According to the report from UPI, researchers said that combining both vaccines actually makes sense because both infections affect the immune system and can easily lead to death.

The study, which was presented at the International Liver Congress in Barcelona, was conducted in two phases. For the first phase, researchers recruited 32 healthy volunteers in three groups. The first and second groups received investigational vaccine of HCV and HIV, respectively, at weeks 0 and 8. Meanwhile, the third group was given both the investigational vaccine of HCV and HIV.

Researchers then observed that both vaccines caused the expected immune response by HIV- and HCV-specific T cells in patients receiving them while the vaccine that was given simultaneously didn't impair the immune response either.

"Knowing that it may be possible to vaccinate a single individual against both diseases opens up huge possibilities for rolling back epidemics of disease and co-infection," Professor Ellie Barnes, co-author of the study, said.

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