FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

New research may improve HIV vaccines

New research may improve HIV vaccines
New research may improve HIV vaccines | Courtesy of

A new scientific discovery, made by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, may significantly change how health professionals prevent HIV infections.

“Vaccines work by teaching the immune system to react by mimicking a natural infection,” Dr. Sunnie Yoh, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Sumit Chanda, director of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at Sanford-Burnham and lead author of the study, said. "Designing a drug that mimics the interface between HIV and PQBP1 would allow an HIV vaccine to more effectively re-create an immune environment that mirrors real infection.”

The scientists conducted a study in which they identified a protein, polyglutamine-binding protein 1 (PQB1), that may be crucial to improving the body’s immune response against the virus.

“Current approaches to HIV vaccine development have thus far yielded little fruit, partly because of the lack of an effective vaccine adjuvant,” Chanda said. “Adjuvants promote a robust immune response to vaccines and are critical to eliciting long-lasting immunity. Our study identifies a promising new target for a vaccine adjuvant that could advance the development of HIV vaccines and prevent infection.”

PQBP1 is a front-line sensor that starts the immune response against HIV by provoking an overall protective environment to guard the body against infections. The protein increases the production of virus-specific antibodies.

“PQBP1 acts as a sentry for innate immune response to HIV,” Chanda said. “The development of a highly effective HIV vaccine will likely depend on both combining the correct immunogens, which are viral proteins, and unlocking the innate response, to establish long-lived protection. Now that we know the gatekeeper, it will be much easier to find a key.”

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Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

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