Experts Aim to Study HIV "Elite Controllers" on Global Level

AIDS researchers

AIDS researchers are now aiming to expand their study of HIV elite controllers and include people from all over the world. Elite controllers are a rare group of HIV infected people whose immune systems, for reasons unknown, have been able to prevent the thriving of the virus in their bodies.

The research, which earlier included only people from North America, will now involve subjects from all over. Researchers aim to get people from Asia, Africa and Latin America involved as well.

Elite controllers are different from other HIV infected patients in the sense that they are 100% healthy, show no signs or symptoms of HIV related diseases as much as 10 years post contracting the infection. Scientists and researchers, thorough their study, are hoping to uncover the reason behind their robust immune systems and use it to design an effective vaccine against the disease for everyone.

"The hope is if we know the immune protective mechanism in elite controllers, we can target it for vaccine design," Yu Xu, assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told Reuters after addressing an AIDS vaccine conference in Paris.

Currently, blood samples and other data from 2,000 such elite controllers from the US and Canada is being studied and researchers are hoping to bring in subjects from China, Peru, Thailand, Brazil and other parts of the world.

The expanding of the study to other regions and groups will help put together a clearer picture of how to design a vaccine to fight the infection, researchers are optimistic.