Could a pint of beer protect you from HIV in the future? The answer is yes, according to a US company that is aiming to make a cheap vaccine out of brewer's yeast, the New Scientist reports.
Alex Franzusoff and his team at GlobeImmune of Denver have added an HIV gene to yeast. When the modified yeast cells are injected into mice, they stimulate a strong response from the immune system's killer T cells. This is thought to be crucial to create an effective vaccine. The team presented its findings at the AIDS Vaccine 2001 conference in Philadelphia last week.
The yeast-based vaccine could be brewed up quickly and easily and it would be very cheap. Just 100 litres could provide 5 million doses, the report outlines.
Another advantage is yeast's flexibility--it can incorporate vast amounts of foreign DNA, so researchers could insert several HIV genes, which should make any vaccine more effective.
Researchers commented that more research was required, in particular the testing on non-human primates.
So far, the yeast vaccine has been injected, but GlobeImmune is developing intranasal and oral versions for a safety study in people.