A simple injection of antibody-producing DNA into your muscle cells could provide you with life-long protection from HIV, according to research conducted by California's Institute of Technology. For it to work right now, though, you'd have to be a mouse.
Based on a 2009 technique used to protect monkeys from a similar disease — the simian immunodeficiency virus — the vaccine gets inside muscles cells and uses them to produce HIV-fighting antibodies. The antibodies then make their way into the bloodstream.
The vaccine itself is delivered by a modified adenovirus, usually a source of respiratory infections (and diarrhoea, according to the CDC), but in this case, it's a welcome messenger with immunity-boosting properties. How boosting? According to the Institute's tests, the antibodies were able to handle a HIV payload 100 times greater than normal. Antibody levels also remained high over an extended period, so a single shot could potentially protect you for life.
It's not happy days just yet — the method comes with drawbacks. The first is if your body rejects or has an adverse reaction to the antibodies, there's no way to reverse the procedure. Secondly, well, mice are mice. The vaccine will have to undergo significant clinical trials, which won't start until the end of 2012, before it will see the light of day at your local GP.
There's also the financial aspect — while the one shot would be the cost-effective approach, it appears antibody boosters would be the safer, but more expensive option. So there are definitely a few kinks to work out.