Researchers identify immunogens able to elicit HIV antibodies

Researchers identified two HIV-1 envelope antigens that elicited broadly neutralizing antibodies against the virus when introduced as a vaccine, according to a study recently published in PLOS One.

The research team from the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute derived the HIV-1 envelope protein immunogens from an elite neutralizer, an individual who has an unusually potent antibody response that is effective against most HIV subtypes. The researchers identified two immunogens that elicited cross-reactive binding antibodies to the HIV envelope's variable regions one and two.

The immunogens induced antibodies that were able to neutralize HIV from multiple subtypes.

"Previous studies have shown that anti-HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies can effectively block infection with HIV-1 if present prior to infection with the virus," Noah Sather, the corresponding author of the study, said. "In addition, antibodies that target a specific part of the envelope protein, the V1V2 region, have been shown in clinical trials to be associated with a reduced risk of infection. Thus, the ideal vaccine would introduce immunogens that elicit antibodies both targeted to the V1V2 region of the envelope protein and capable of providing protection from a wide variety of HIV-1 subtypes."

Seattle BioMed will conduct follow on studies focused on modifying the envelope immunogens to increase the effectiveness and potency of the vaccine.

HIV-1 causes 2.3 million new infections and 1.6 million AIDS-related deaths annually. While antiretroviral therapies are effective, the best way to defeat the epidemic may be a universally effective HIV-1 vaccine.

Seattle BioMed is an independent, non-profit organization focused on infectious disease research, including research on drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to protect against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.