Scientists have shown that immunogen (virus protein) eOD-GT8 60mer can successfully stimulate immune system to block HIV/AIDS infection in mice. The new results were published on 18 June 2015 in concurrent studies in Cell and Science.
The research was led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and The Rockefeller University.
The immunogen eOD-GT8 60mer, essentially a protein nanoparticle, has the potential to inform immunization strategies against AIDS for humans.
In their study, scientists tested the immunogen eOD-GT8 60mer, which was developed in the Schief lab and tested in mouse models engineered by the Nemazee lab to produce human-like antibodies. The immunogen was designed to mimic a critical part of the HIV envelope protein and to bind and activate B cells to produce antibodies needed to fight HIV.
The results showed that immunization with eOD-GT8 60mer produced antibody "precursors" with some of the traits necessary to recognize and block HIV infection, suggesting that eOD-GT8 60mer could be a good first step in a series of immunizations against HIV.
The researchers are now investigating other immunogens that could work in conjunction with eOD-GT8 60mer.
Meanwhile in an another study published in journal Science by researchers from Amsterdam University, Weill Cornell Medical College, TSRI and IAVI, showed engineered immunogens also triggered broadly neutralizing antibody immune responses in rabbit and monkey models.
The researchers' long-term goal is to design a vaccine that prompts the body to produce antibodies that bind to HIV and prevent infection by many if not all of the virus' variants.
Why the findings are important?
So far the effort to develop a vaccine against HIV to elicit antibodies that can effectively fight off different strains of the fast and extensively mutating virus has been unsuccessful. The reason is HIV mutates more rapidly into new strains than most other viruses and has an unprecedented ability to evade detection by the immune system.
According to the researchers, a successful AIDS vaccine needs to comprise of a series of related, but slightly different immunogens to train the body to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. It is different from the traditional HIV vaccination schemes, in which a person was exposed to the same immunogen multiple times.
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