Scientists have found that it may be possible to use the patient's own blood to fight serious infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
This can be done by using a specific type of white blood cells, called monocytes, to "capture" the virus and use it to boost the patient's own immune response. For example, the proteins of the virus can be used to tailor-make a vaccine to each patient.
The study by Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, which comes under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) paves the way for the creation of a "personalised vaccine" for such patients.
Presently, vaccines for chronic infections such as HIV are tricky to produce because patients's immunity is already weakened. Also, it may not be work for everyone due to genetic differences among viruses. Said Professor Antonio Bertoletti, who is been working on this study: "Mobilising the immune system to use the virus within the patient for a vaccine is a simple idea that could lead to a personalised, yet widely applicable, vaccine for chronic infections."