Researchers Develop HIV/AIDS Vaccine That Targets Three Virus Strains
Researchers are developingan HIV/AIDS vaccine that targets three strains of the virus spreading throughparts of China, Hong Kongand Taiwan,Reuters reports. According to Reuters, twoclosely related HIV strains are spreading primarily through injection drug usein China's southwestern Yunnan province, the northwestern Xinjiang province andthe southern Guangdongprovince. A third strain spread primarily through heterosexual sex has beenfound in Yunnan and the southern Guangxiprovince, according to Chen Zhiwei of Hong Kong'snewly created AIDS Institute. Chen added that researchers havebeen employing gene sequencing to track the evolution of HIV strains in China, as wellas their geographic spread.
The HIV strains found in south and west Chinaare similar to strains found in Cambodia,Hong Kong, India,Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailandand Vietnam,Chen said. He added that the similarity between strains in China, Taiwanand Hong Kong could indicate the travelingroutes used by injection drug users in the region.
According to Chen, researchers in Chinaand the U.S.in collaboration with the AIDS Institute have developed a vaccine based on thetwo HIV strains spread by injection drug use. He added that they aim to havethe vaccine in animal tests by the end of the year. Researchers hope todetermine if the vaccine would be effective against the strain primarily spreadthrough sex, Chen said. There is about a 60% to 70% "identity between thesubtypes," Chen said, adding, "If viruses are very closely related,changes of cross-protection are better" (Tan, Reuters, 1/21).
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