Researchers test simian virus to develop AIDS vaccine
Tuesday, Sep 17th 2013

The HIV virus has produced one of the most pervasive medical conditions present in today's society: AIDS. After many attempts to stop the virus from spreading, researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University may have discovered the secret in creating a vaccine to prevent the ailment by studying a virus that causes the disease in non-human primates.

The simian immunodeficiency virus is very similar to HIV, allowing the university researchers to conduct reasonable experiments with the virus to develop a vaccine. After researchers combined a modified version of the herpes virus cytomegalovirus with the SIV, the CMV initiated a response to create "effector memory" T-cells, which then destroyed SIV-infected cells, according to International Business Times. The vaccine made from this process functionally cured the simians without needing to remove the infection. While the unconventional vaccine still has some work to do, environmental control systems were able to help researchers in their efforts to create the product. The next step for this breakthrough will be to conduct studies on humans to achieve the same results and prepare their immune systems to combat the disease.

"To date, HIV infection has only been cured in a very small number of highly publicized but unusual clinical cases in which HIV-infected individuals were treated with antiviral medicines very early after the onset of infection or received a stem cell transplant to combat cancer," said Louis Picker, associate director of the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. "This latest research suggests that certain immune responses elicited by a new vaccine may also have the ability to completely remove HIV from the body."

Preserving vaccines
Utilizing a temperature monitoring system to keep an eye on vaccine conditions will ensure that the products are viable for use. Most vaccines must typically be refrigerated immediately in an environment between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Putting these products in extreme heat or cold could damage the product and decrease potency. Many frozen vaccines may not show indications of reduced effectiveness, however, these items are sensitive to major temperature differences from their optimal condition.

Keeping a handle on storage and handling plans will help medical personnel ensure that the vaccines remain viable for use. Developing a detailed strategy from management to inventory organization will give staff an idea of what is expected and create a unified process for vaccine conduct. While a temperature sensor will keep products in an appropriate environment, protocols should also be developed for disposal, not only of used products but items that have expired or were exposed to inappropriate conditions. 

"Think of your vaccine storage equipment as an insurance policy to protect patients' health and safeguards your facility against costly vaccine replacement, inadvertent administration of compromised vaccine and other potential consequences (e.g., the costs of revaccination and loss of patient confidence in your practice)," according to the CDC. "Reliable, properly maintained equipment is critical to the vaccine cold chain."

The AIDS breakthrough is the first step toward developing a solid solution that will treat the condition. Appropriately handling vaccines will ensure that patients receive the appropriate care and give them the tools to beat the disease.