A new study suggests that HIV patients with a higher level of a particular biomarker, or a measurable indicator found in the blood, may respond more favourably to an experimental immune activating vaccine.
Experts at St George's, University of London, and Norwegian vaccine company, Bionor Pharma Researchers, believe the findings might lead to a more customised vaccine for certain patients, which potentially might permit them to come off antiretrovirals, drugs used to treat HIV.
The research found that the therapeutic vaccine, Vacc-4x, reduced the amount of virus circulating in the body by more than half in patients with higher levels of the particular biomarker compared to those with lower levels.
Professor Angus Dalgleish, of St George's, University of London, said: "In spite of very effective drugs against HIV these need to be taken daily and have significant side-effects.
"The ability to replace this daily medication with a vaccine that allows several months of being off medication, not to mention the enormous financial gains that would be delivered to health services, is a step closer with these preliminary results."
Further study will be needed to confirm the results.
These new results were announced July 18 at the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
The results come from a collaborative project between St George's, University of London and Bionor Pharma.
In the UK nearly 78,000 people were receiving specialist care for HIV in 2012.