Further study into the sole HIV vaccine trial to demonstrate moderate effectiveness has yielded new findings that may point to a future vaccine when combined with other recent scientific discoveries, PlusNews.org reports. Publishing their paper in the journal Immunity, researchers from Duke University, the Thailand Ministry of Public Health and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program studied data from the six-year vaccine trial in Thailand called RV144. This study of 16,000 HIV-negative adults, whose results were released in 2009, showed that the investigatory vaccine reduced infection rates by 31 percent, which was short of the minimum 50 percent effectiveness epidemiologists say is needed to turn the tide of the epidemic.

According to the new study, the vaccine prompted four separate antibodies to mark the virus on a key site on the surface of HIV-infected cells. These indications alerted the so-called “killer T-cells” to attack and kill the infected cells. However, the researchers have stated that they cannot be sure this reaction was the cause of what protection the vaccine did provide against infection. Still, when added to the recent discovery that the immune system’s “broadly neutralizing antibodies” can effectively target the virus, this new understanding of the body’s natural defense mechanisms may one day contribute to the development of a more comprehensive, complex and ultimately effective vaccine.

To read the PlusNews.org story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.