Cytomegalovirus is one of those ubiquitous viruses. Pretty much everyone on Earth is infected with it, and if you arent, you probably will be at some point in your life.
Some scientists got the idea to use CMV as a gene delivery system for HIV-1– ‘Infecting’ cells with ‘HIV’ without actually infecting cells with HIV, meaning ‘CMV/HIV infected’ cells express HIV proteins and train the immune system to respond to an HIV infection, in the absence of actual HIV.
This vaccine trained macaques Cytotoxic T-cells to respond to SIVs pirate flags on SIV infected cells. The vaccine was able to limit infection of a highly pathogenic form of SIV in about half the macaques (the macaques were infected, but it seems they controlled the initial infection, well, half of them). Even better– even though all the macaques were previously infected with CMV (like basically every human), the CMV vector was able to work just fine. There was a chance preexisting immunity to CMV would have messed the system up, either not letting it work at all, or making infections worse (this was tried previously in humans with an Ad5 vector, and there were some initial indications that people previously exposed to Ad5 naturally had an increased risk of acquiring HIV. I think those odds evened out to nothing, but it was scary there for a sec). Hurray!
While this paper is very cool, and it is a new approach to an old idea (with an HIV vaccine, especially a CTL-based vaccine, Ill take all the new ideas people can come up with), the study is limited and preliminary.
They vaccinated with one variant of SIV. They challenged with the same variant. The problem is not protecting humans (macaques?) from the same thing that we put in the vaccine. We know we can do that. The problem is figuring out what to put in a vaccine that protects humans from the billions and billions and billions of HIV variants they might be exposed to in the real world.
So again, I want to emphasize this research is cool… but we havent ‘cured’ HIV/AIDS yet.