Duke Human Vaccine Institute researchers recently harvested some rare, potent antibodies from a person with an HIV infection to determine whether the sequential structures will help develop an HIV vaccine.
An efficient HIV vaccine will generate a response from antibodies, causing them to attack the virus while it mutates. These rare, potent antibodies may reveal how they developed, possibly leading researchers to an HIV vaccine.
A person who has an HIV infection and who lives in Africa was first diagnosed just a few weeks after developing the infection. Researchers collecting blood samples from the patient have tracked the times and changes of the virus.
"We have followed a less potent neutralizing lineage in this particular individual before, but now we have found a far more potent antibody and have been able to study its development over six years," Dr. Mattia Bonsignori, first author of the study, said. "With sequential structures, we can see the changes that occurred in both antibody and virus."
Scientists from the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute hope to learn how the antibodies developed in order to create their own experimental vaccine, which could produce crucial broadly neutralizing antibodies.
"We could visualize this complex dance between the virus and the antibody and understand exactly how the virus was teaching the antibody to be a broadly neutralizing antibody," Dr. Peter D. Kwong, chief of the Structural Biology Section at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, said.