SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Study gives hope for novel, effective HIV vaccine

A team of scientists recently discovered how the body naturally fights HIV infection through the production of a strong antibody, which may provide the basis for a novel and potentially highly effective HIV vaccine.

The study was conducted by scientists from the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Columbia University, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg.

The researchers discovered that the immune system naturally produces a powerful antibody that targets the V1V2 region of the HIV virus, blocking infection. The researchers believe if a vaccine can enhance the body's production of these antibodies, called CAP256-VRC26, it could be one of the most effective vaccines against the virus yet.

The researchers took a study group from CAPRISA, who naturally developed CAP256-VRC26 after several weeks of infection, and analyzed blood samples of the volunteers between 15 weeks and four years following infection. The scientists were able to identify the genetic form of the antibody in its original form, intermediate form and most potent form as the HIV infection progressed and were able to map its potency and ability to neutralize HIV strains.

The researchers found that in each stage of the antibody's mutation, it showed potency in neutralizing various HIV strains. The team is developing a basic investigational vaccine to test the feasibility of inducing this immune response through the use of a vaccine.