A team of Seattle researchers led by Dr. Leo Stamatatos recently created an HIV vaccine candidate that could induce the immune system to defend against a wide range of HIV strains.
The vaccine contains protein antigens that provoke B cells’ progenitors into binding, which is an immune response key to combatting HIV. Binding blocks the HIV virus from spreading.
“The hypothesis and approach is something completely different from what’s been done before” Stamatatos, a member of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said. “Just for that, I feel optimistic that we’re going to be one step closer to finding a vaccine.”
If all goes well, researchers plan for a vaccine to be approved for human trials in the next two years. Such future clinical trials will determine the efficacy of the vaccine’s ability to block HIV in humans.
Then scientists will research how to keep the immune response stable for long periods of time. They will also discover how to keep the antibodies at the specific site of HIV.
“These findings give researchers new clues to improve the chances of inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies, which is the holy grail of an HIV vaccine” Dr. Julie McElrath, senior vice president and director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said.
More details can be found in "Science" magazine.