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A rare group of HIV positive people whose immune systems somehow prevent the virus from thriving is to be studied by Aids researchers in their hunt for a vaccine.
The so-called ‘elite controllers’ remain healthy 10 years after becoming infected, have no signs or symptoms of HIV-related disease and do not need treatment.
“The hope is if we know the immune protective mechanism in elite controllers, we can target it for vaccine design,” said Yu Xu, assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The blood samples and other data from 2,000 such controllers, or “long term nonprogressers”, mostly from the US and Canada, are already being studied.
Now scientists intend to extend the investigation to China, South Africa, Peru, Thailand and Brazil, as well as any other part of the world where concentrations of controllers are found to exist.
Copyright Press Association 2009