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Study: Smallpox vaccine may protect against HIV infection

Study: Smallpox vaccine may protect against HIV infection

Researchers at George Mason University's National Center for Biodefense say a small study of 20 volunteers has shown that smallpox vaccines have significant anti-HIV effects and may possibly offer protection against HIV infection. Based on a theory that HIV cases in developing nations began to soar only when smallpox vaccinations were halted in the 1980s, researchers studied blood samples from 10 people who recently received smallpox vaccinations and 10 who had never been vaccinated against the diseases. HIV was added to the blood samples, and those from patients vaccinated for smallpox showed little or no growth of the virus. The researchers also reported the blood cells in samples taken from vaccinated study subjects were four times less likely to become infected with HIV than those from nonvaccinated volunteers. "Our outcomes are very encouraging," said Ken Alibek, director of the biodefense center. "Additional studies that may lead us to more definitive conclusions already are under way." The biodefense center also has filed for a patent for the therapeutic use of smallpox vaccines to treat or prevent HIV infection.

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