A new experimental HIV vaccine candidate has been designed by scientist that could motivate the immune system to block infection from the lethal virus.
Scientists from International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), The Rockefeller University and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), tested lab mice and revealed that the vaccine candidate is able to stimulate the immune system activity vital to halt HIV infection.
The findings of the study could give key information for the development of an effective vaccine to contra AIDS, said the researchers.
The research, published in the Cell and Science journals, signifies a great leap in the effort to find a vaccine to fight HIV, which has struggled to elicit antibodies or immune system molecules which could fight off the different strains of the virus.
Dennis Burton, the TSRI Department of Immunology and Microbial Science chair, said that the “the results are pretty spectacular.”
A number of vaccines for other diseases, use a dead or inactive type of the microbe itself to elicit the production of antibodies, immunization with “native” HIV proteins are futile in activating an effective immune reaction, due to the ability of the HIV to elude detection by the immune system to mutate speedily into new strains.
This experiment prompted researchers into believing that an effective AIDS vaccine comprises a series of related, but somewhat different proteins (immunogens) to train the body to produce neutralizing antibodies against HIV, somewhat akin to the traditional “booster” shot, in which a person is exposed to the same immunogen a number of times.
One of these potential proteins was tested by scientists, an immunogen dubbed eOD-GT8 60mer. It is a protein nanoparticle intended to bind and activate B cells essential to combat HIV.
The eOD-GT8 60mer was tested in mouse lab to create antibodies resembling human antibodies.
By the use of a technique called B cell sorting, researchers discovered that immunizing with eOD-GT8 60mer created antibody “precursors”, traits necessary to recognize and block HIV infection.
This placed forward the idea that eOD-GT8 60mer may be a candidate to serve as the first in a series of immunizations contra HIV, said the researchers.
“The vaccine appears to work well in our mouse model to ’prime’ the antibody response,” added David Nemazee, the TSRI Professor.
Researchers utilized the same eOD-GT8 60mer immunogen but used a marginally different mouse model.
TSRI Professor William Schief said, “The immunogen again launched the immune system in the right direction.”