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Scientists edge closer to finding human HIV vaccine

TSRI and IAVI scientists have designed a protein nanoparticle called "eOD-GT8 60mer" (above) that binds and activates B cells needed to fight HIV

TSRI and IAVI scientists have designed a protein nanoparticle called “eOD-GT8 60mer” (above) that binds and activates B cells needed to fight HIV

New research by scientists shows that orderly immunizations adapted with different phases of immune responses could be the key to a HIV vaccine.

The researcher’s 25-year-old aim was to design a vaccine that would prompt the body to generate antibodies that would in return attach themselves to the HIV virus and fight them, preventing infection.

Scientists at The Rockefeller University, The Scripps Research Institute, Weill Cornel Medical College, and International AIDS vaccine initiative have found in a recent experiment that orderly immunizations adapted with different phases of immune response could produce a special set of antibodies called “neutralizing antibodies,” that can fight the HIV virus – evidence to their long-term mission.

In a report by Health Canal, Pia Dosenovic, associated with Rockefeller has said that in some patients as the HIV mutates in a patient, the body produces the “neutralizing antibodies” that has the capability to unite with and neutralize a wide range of HIV variants.

Their experiments have shown that orderly immunization can kindle the immune response of a body and produce those antibodies and prevent HIV infection.

Unlike other deadly viruses where one “powerful” shot generally does the trick, HIV vaccine needs several of them. The reason is because HIV is such a destructive virus that it can cunningly dodge detection by antibodies, and continue with their rapid mutation.

The same report by Health Canal added that some patients produce “neutralizing antibodies” on their own due to the massive infection. These antibodies, produced by B cell (immune cell) polish their ability to detect foreign molecules – antigens, due to the constant mutation underwent by the B cell.

The experiments were conducted on mice to produce antibodies similar to human beings.

The report added that the researchers took two groups of mice for their experiments. The first group contained antibodies with no HIV-focusing mutations – an early response of B cell, while the second group contained mutations that were linked to the “neutralizing antibodies” hence, they could withstand the later stages of infection.

The researchers tested both sets of antigens. William Schief and his colleagues at Scripps, created an antigen that made CD4 site – the binding site with which HIV virus attaches itself to T cell (immune cell) and infects it, easily reachable. The second antigen that quite resembled the original one found in HIV was designed by John Moore and Rogier Sanders at Weil Cornell.

The first form of antigen showed hope in provoking the B cell to generate and increase the production to antibodies to neutralize the HIV virus, but the second form of antigen withstood the later stages of infection by triggering the mice to produce antibodies.

Pia Dosenovic added in the same report by Health Canal that while their “results suggest sequential immunizations may make it possible to vaccinate against HIV,” they have “only just begun to understand how this sequence would work.”

He added, “We know the beginning and the end, but we don’t know what should happen in the middle.”

World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that until 2013, 35 million people were found to be living with HIV virus with 0.8 percent of people in the age group of 15-49 years as the biggest victims. Africa continued to be the greatest sufferer with one in every 20 adults, having HIV.

This disease has been a matter of concern for several years, taking away 39 million lives since its spread. If any experimental vaccine could be found to fight such a deadly virus we can only imagine how many lives will be saved in a year in every nook and cranny of the world.

The research by the scientists has been published in a journal called “Cell and Science.”


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