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HIV could be 'minor infection' with new vaccine

HIV could be reduced to a "minor chronic infection" akin to herpes, scientists developing a new vaccine have claimed.

Spanish researchers found that 22 out of 24 healthy people developed an immune response to HIV after being given the MVA-B vaccine.

Prof Mariano Esteban of the National Biotech Centre in Madrid, said of the vaccination: "It is like showing it a picture of the HIV so that it is able to recognise it if it sees it again in the future."

The injection contains four HIV genes which stimulate T and B lymphocytes -- types of white blood cells.

Prof Esteban said: "Our body is full of lymphocytes, each of them programmed to fight against a different pathogen. Training is needed when it involves a pathogen, like the HIV one, which cannot be naturally defeated."

B cells produce antibodies which attack viruses before they infect cells, while T cells detect and destroy infected cells.

The study showed that almost three-quarters of participants had developed HIV-specific antibodies 11 months after vaccination. More than a third developed a type of T cell that fights HIV, called CD4+, while more than two-thirds developed another, called CD8+.

Overall, 92pc developed some sort of immune response. Prof Esteban acknowledged the vaccine was at an early stage, describing it as "promising".

But if it passed clinical trials and made it into production "in the future HIV could be compared to herpes virus nowadays, a minor chronic infection that only resulted in disease when the immune system was otherwise compromised".

Meanwhile, a major new American study on blood pressure has found that even people with blood pressure slightly higher than normal may have an increased risk of stroke.

The scientists came to the conclusion after analysing data on 518,520 adults from 12 studies looking at blood pressure and stroke risk.

They found that people with "prehypertension" -- slightly raised blood pressure -- were 50pc more likely to suffer a stroke than those with normal blood pressure levels.

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Prehypertension is defined by a systolic (top number) reading of 120 to 139 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic (bottom number) of 80 to 89 mmHg.

'Normal' blood pressure is said to be at or below 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). 'High' blood pressure has consistent readings of 140 over 90 or more.


People under the age of 65 with prehypertension had an almost 80pc increased risk of stroke when compared with normal blood pressure individuals, according to the research.

"These people may immediately benefit from blood pressure-lowering methods, such as reducing their salt intake and weight, to help reduce their risk of stroke," said study leader Dr Bruce Ovbiagele, from the University of California at San Diego.

The research, published online in the journal 'Neurology', took account of influencing risk factors such as age, gender, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and smoking.

Dr Sharlin Ahmed, from The Stroke Association, said: "High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke. However, 40pc of all strokes could be prevented if people took steps to control their blood pressure. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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