An Autobiography of a T Helper cell about HIV vaccine

Hi guys, this is an essay on 'HIV Vaccine' which I had to write for an essay writing competition for my college. I got 2nd prize for it.
Have fun reading it.

"Hi, I am a Th1 cell, I have just been accepted as a potent cell to fight the immune system in the thymus, my birthplace like all other cells is the bone marrow. I come from the family of the T-helper cells, we are the bosses of all the immune cells as we tell them what to do. We fight the various components that enter the blood which do not belong to us. Such as various bacteria, viruses and proteins etc. One of the most important cells which take care of the bacteria, viruses and proteins are the marcophages and these macrophages once activated by us play a very important role in the immune system. The other cells are B cells, dendritic cells, the PMNs and NK cells which work under us."

"All of us together are very much potent in fighting the immune system and can take care of any 'pathogen'. But there is a very big problem in our whole system as a virus known as the HIV has entered our system. This virus attacks the macrophages and grows inside it and then replicates inside it. But the main target are the CD4 T cells, which are basically us. Now if we get reduced in the system there is no one to actually tell the immune system what to do and there a functional collaspe of the whole immune system. We cannot fight it as they grow inside us and replicate inside us. So there are various ways in which we could be informed about a threat like this, and one of the way is 'vaccination'. A live or dead pathogen or a part of the pathogen is injected in blood or is exposed to the system due to which we know that a pathogen similar to it maybe encountered in future and the cells can be trained and developed accordingly."

"So why was there no vaccine developed for HIV? I asked the other Th cells. And based on the various interactions I can tell you that first and foremost, the vaccine developed against the surface antigen of the HIV can be made. However that is not possible as when the virus is killed the antigenicity of that virus protein is lost. So in other words we cannot train the cells to such a product which has no antigenicity. And the other is live vaccines in which the virus is made weak and then is injected into the blood. But this is not done as the process is very risky and may lead to an infection if that weak virus can still attack the immune system. One of the other factors is the 'latency period'. I had a talk with another th cell and he said that 'the virus stayed inside me for 2 weeks or so and after that it started replicating.' This means that the virus does not infect the cell as it enters, it infact goes into a so called 'latency period'. And this is one of the reasons why the vaccine cannot be made."

"Another reason for not developing a vaccine is that the virus has various types and each type is different from another and due to these serotypes/variants only one vaccine cannot do the complete job, as the cells of the immune system are very specific. I have talked with 'acquired immune cells' which were from an different origin told us that the lab in which they were cultivated, there HIV vaccine trials have been going on. And in most of the parts of the world like South Africa, Malaysia etc there are HIV vaccine trials going on.

"Hope is not lost yet, as various antiretrovirals in combination with the vaccine may serve as a potent immunisation technique one day. One of the very good and potent antiretroviral drug is tenofovir which may be used as an 'antiretroviral gel'. Final conclusions can be made that the vaccine may be made in several years, but till then prevention is the best way to combat AIDS. If there will be no enrty of the virus in the immune system they wont get to us and no infection will take place."

"Vaccine making will take time but as always remember 'prevention is better than cure' and so now gotta go, I got some Mycobacterium infected cells to take care of"

Copyright  (c) Mufaddal Dewaswala

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