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Breakthrough as New Vaccine Clears HIV Virus in Monkeys

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Global science has finally confirmed cure for Human Immune Virus (HIV), one of the world killer diseases as new studies have proved a vaccine for the monkey equivalent of HIV can eradicate the virus.

The latest report further explained that the new vaccine which cures simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), an infection found in monkeys similar to HIV, would ultimately help scientists create a human version for HIV.

 In recent years, spates of findings have shown that HIV can essentially be eradicated in some patients.

Since then, scientists have been scrambling to ultimately find a cure that could drastically change the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of AIDS.

Globally, 34.0 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2011. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly one in every 20 adults (4.9 per cent) living with HIV and accounting for 69 per cent of the people living with HIV worldwide.

In Nigeria, it is estimated that 3.4 million persons live with the virus.

According to the study from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, published in the journal Nature, researchers tested the vaccine on 16 monkeys infected with an aggressive form of SIV called SIVmac239.

Nine of the 16 monkeys had the infection completely eliminated from their bodies.

These monkeys were still infection-free between one-and-a-half to three years later. Further research is needed to determine why the vaccine only worked on some monkeys. Researchers also hope to test how the vaccine affects monkeys already infected with SIV, and eventually, if the vaccine could work in humans.

A potential HIV vaccine is still years away. But recent research has developed two vaccines for other infectious diseases that could be available sooner.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first recognized as a new disease in 1981 when increasing numbers of young homosexual men succumbed to unusual opportunistic infections and rare malignancies.

A retrovirus, now termed human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), was subsequently identified as the causative agent of what has since become one of the most devastating infectious diseases to have emerged in recent history.

HIV-1 spreads by sexual, percutaneous, and perinatal routes, however, 80 per cent of adults acquire HIV-1 following exposure at mucosal surfaces, and AIDS is thus primarily a sexually transmitted disease.

But based on the latest discovery, the authors said that they will adopt similar approach adopted for the monkeys to test a vaccine for HIV in humans. Commenting, Prof Louis Picker, from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, said: “It is always tough to claim eradication – there could always be a cell which we didn’t analyse that has the virus in it.

But for the most part, with very stringent criteria… there was no virus left in the body of these monkeys.”

The research team looked at an aggressive form of virus called SIVmac239, which is up to 100 times more deadly than HIV. Infected monkeys usually die within two years, but in some inoculated primates, the virus did not take hold.

The vaccine is based on another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which belongs to the herpes family.

It used the infectious power of CMV to sweep throughout the body. But instead of causing disease, it has been modified to spur the immune system into action to fight off the SIV molecules.

“It maintains an armed force, that patrols all the tissues of the body, all the time, indefinitely,” explained Prof Picker. The researchers gave rhesus macaque monkeys the vaccine, and then exposed them to SIV.

They found that at first, the infection began to establish and spread. But then the monkeys’ bodies started to respond, searching out and destroying all signs of the virus.

Of the monkeys that successfully responded to the vaccine, they were still clear of infection between one-and-a-half and three years later.

Prof Picker said his team was still trying to work out why the vaccination worked in only about half of the monkeys. “It could be the fact that SIV is so pathogenic that this is the best you are ever going to get.

There is a battle going on, and half the time the vaccine wins and half the time it does not,” he said. The researchers are now testing the vaccine to see if it can be used after SIV exposure to treat and potentially cure infected monkeys. They also want to see if the technique could work in humans.

Prof Picker said: “In order to make a human version, we have to make sure it is absolutely safe. We have now engineered a CMV virus which generates the same immune response, but has been attenuated (modified to lose its virulence) to the point where we think it is unequivocally safe.”

 This would first have to pass through the regulatory authorities, but if it does, he said he hoped to start the first clinical trials in humans in the next two years.

Commenting on the research, Dr Andrew Freedman, from Cardiff University School of Medicine, said: “This suggests that prophylactic vaccines – vaccines designed to prevent infection – using CMV vectors may be a promising approach for HIV. While they may not prevent the initial infection, they might lead to subsequent clearance, rather than the establishment of chronic infection.”


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Magu, Suspended EFCC Boss Says He Never Received Bribe all His Life

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Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Wednesday said he has never received bribe all his life.

Magu, Suspended EFCC Boss Says He Never Received Bribe all His Life

brahim Magu, suspended chairman, EFCC

Magu was testifying before the Justice Ayo Salami panel probing allegations of corruption against him.

The suspended EFCC boss said anyone who claim he had ever given him bribe should come forward before the panel to testify against him.

He was responding to allegations that he allowed a suspect Hima Aboubakar, a Nigerien National to escape from justice.

The suspended EFCC boss had opened his defense on Monday to clear corruption allegations against him.

The probe panel has allowed him to have only two lawyers represent him at a time.

On Monday & Tuesday, he was represented by Wahab Shittu and Aliyu Lemu.

In yesterday’s proceedings, he was represented by Shittu and Tosin Ojaomo.


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HP, AU Commission Sign MoU to Collaborate for Development of Entrepreneurial Skills in Africa

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HP Inc. in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster entrepreneurial learning in Africa.

The aim of the MoU is to further cement the collaboration between these two parties in building entrepreneurial skills across the continent and to leverage HP Foundation’s Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE).

HP LIFE provides people in the region with access to 32 free, online courses in seven languages to build key business competencies as set out in the AGENDA 2063.

AGENDA 2063 is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.

It is the continent’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development and is a concrete manifestation of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress, and collective prosperity.

HP Inc. and the AUC have agreed to exchange information and material on enhancing quality education for learners and entrepreneurs in Africa, organize symposiums and conferences on education and skills development initiatives, leverage the online platform HP LIFE, which is aimed to enroll a million users between 2016 and 2025 and is part of HP’s commitment to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people globally by 2025.

The aim of the MoU is to ensure closer collaboration and exchange of information between the parties, in a manner that creates synergies in Youth Skills Development, Academic Exchanges, and Research in Africa.

“HP is driving access to quality education globally to enable anyone and everyone to build skills to compete in the digital economy,” said Issam Essadiqi, Interim Managing Director, HP Africa. “Making education more accessible and effective helps people get better jobs, launch small businesses, and create opportunities for their families and communities.

“HP believes technology can be the great equalizer in education and is using it to enable students to get access to quality education in the classroom and beyond.”

The AU Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology H.E Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor said, “The partnership with HP will accelerate our education response to Covid-19 and beyond to ensure accessible and continued learning for African youth.

The African Union’s education agenda, which has a focus on digital learning is well complemented by the opportunities that the work with HP will bring about for African youth.

In line with prioritizing distance learning, the partnership will support individuals and institutions of learning to provide the requisite expertise and opportunities.”

HP LIFE was first offered through hundreds of local training centers in countries such as Nigeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya, to help people learn the skills to start or grow a business or improve their employment prospects.

In 2012, HP LIFE expanded to an online platform. Since 2016, over 116,000 men and women across Africa have already received HP LIFE training. 82% of women who took part in an HP LIFE survey said that participating in the programme had increased their confidence in their future

Today, technology can support new styles of learning. PCs and tools designed for education can offer students flexibility of time, place, and pace of learning, whether in or out of the classroom, or in a blend of environments.

HP and the AUC’s joint efforts have the potential to uplift access of education and opportunities for career work and economic growth, and this collaboration has the potential to make lifelong learning a reality.


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“TIME 100” Lists Tony Elumelu among 100 Most Influential People in the World 2020

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TIME has named Tony O. Elumelu, one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, in the 2020 TIME100, the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

“TIME 100” Lists Tony Elumelu among 100 Most Influential People in the World 2020

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Mr Elumelu, who is one of only four Africans on the 2020 list, is recognised for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.

Tony Elumelu is the founder and chairman of Heirs Holdings, his family owned investment company, committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy and healthcare.

He is the Chairman of top pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which operates in 20 countries in Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and is the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking licence in the United States.

The bank provides corporate, commercial, SME and consumer banking services to more than 21 million customers globally.

Elumelu also chairs Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp, whose subsidiaries include Transcorp Power, one of the leading generators of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc, Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand.

Mr Elumelu is the most prominent champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries.

Since inception, the Foundation has funded just under 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its ten year, US$100m commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.

Self-funded, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa, with institutions such as the UNDP, the ICRC and leading European development agencies.

Tony Elumelu Named In “TIME 100” List Of 100 Most Influential People In The World 2020Heirs Holdings, which serves as a corporate role model for African businesses, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation will both celebrate 10 years of impact in November.

Their mission continues to be inspired by Mr Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.


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