'Safe' Aids vaccine mutates to threat
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Thursday 15 September 1994
Scientists at the Centre for Applied Microbiology Research at Porton Down, Wiltshire, found that an experiment with a prototype vaccine against monkey Aids showed how easily a supposedly safe vaccine can change into a dangerous form. Using a live monkey Aids virus as a vaccine, which had been 'attenuated' or crippled to make it harmless, they found that in one out of eight macaque monkeys in the experiment the virus repaired itself within 17 weeks of being injected into the animal.
The virus went on to make further repairs over the next 28 weeks until it became almost indistinguishable from the virus that causes Aids in monkeys. The scientists found that the virus 'vaccine' had replicated freely within the inoculated animal and had reverted to its dangerous form.
Live attenuated viruses are used as vaccines against infections ranging from measles to polio. Many Aids researchers believe they offer the best chance of a vaccine against Aids. Previous research on the simian immunodeficiency virus, SIV, showed it was possible to use live attenuated forms of the virus as a vaccine. Ronald Desrossier at the New England Regional Primate Research Centre near Boston, Massachusetts, found in December 1992 that attenuated SIV gave monkeys the best long-term protection against infection with the virulent forms of the virus.
After showing that monkeys inoculated with the vaccine could survive repeated injections of dangerous strains of SIV, Professor Desrossier proposed that human trials with an attenuated HIV vaccine should begin as soon as possible.
But Professor Jim Neil, an Aids researcher at Glasgow University, said the British research demonstrated the potential dangers of using live attenuated viruses as vaccines. A potential vaccine that proves to be safe under laboratory conditions may evolve into dangerous forms when used in the outside world, he added.
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...