The San Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute has applied for a patent for a new genetically engineered HIV vaccine. This new vaccine would provide lifelong protection from the disease with a single dose.
The vaccine is designed to target the cells that line the body’s surface structures. which are the point of entry into the body in approximately 90 percent of HIV cases. Once HIV enters the body through these cells, it quickly spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs, where it replicates throughout the body. The new vaccine would stimulate the body’s outer layers and cells to generate cells that produce antibodies to HIV.
The institute’s patent application follows closely on the heels of new recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that all Americans ages 15-65 be tested for HIV, regardless of whether they’re considered to be at high-risk for the disease. It also recommended that all pregnant women get tested. Previous recommendations encouraged testing only for those considered high-risk.
More than 1.1 million people in the United States are HIV positive, though one in five are unaware of their status, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Texas ranks fourth in the nation in the number of HIV cases reported to the CDC, with 77,070 cases reported between the beginning of the epidemic and 2008.