A promising new HIV vaccine focuses on stimulating the immune system to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against the disease…

A team of scientists have developed an advanced HIV vaccine strategy which could also help protect people from an array of other deadly infectious diseases.

How the vaccine strategy works

The new vaccine strategy works by stimulating the immune system to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against HIV.

These special antibodies are capable of neutralizing many different strains of the fast-mutating virus by binding to important yet difficult-to-access regions of the virus surface that don’t vary much from strain to strain.

Based on a concept called “germline targeting,” this novel strategy could potentially provide protection against the millions of different strains of the virus circulating globally.

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What makes this vaccine strategy so special?

Achieving this goal has so far been elusive – no HIV vaccine candidate has ever been shown to induce a protective bnAb response in humans.

“I believe that we need a germline-targeting strategy to develop an effective vaccine against HIV, and the same type of strategy may be helpful for making vaccines against many other difficult pathogens,” says the study’s co-senior author William Schief, PhD, a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research. “Here, with a great collaborative effort among multiple labs, we’ve shown the feasibility of a general germline-targeting approach.”

This study drew scientists from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise: co-senior authors are Scripps Research’s Schief, Facundo Batista, PhD, chief scientific officer at the Ragon Institute, and Shane Crotty, PhD, a professor in the Vaccine Discovery Division at La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

“This is a very ambitious project that requires a multi-disciplinary approach and can only succeed by virtue of collaboration,” says co-senior author Facundo Batista, PhD, chief scientific officer at the Ragon Institute.

The researchers envision an eventual HIV vaccine that combines several of their efforts to elicit multiple types of bnAbs against HIV.

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Source: Scripps Research Institute. For further reading, visit: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191107160735.htm

Sunday, 1 December 2019, is World Aids Day. For more articles on HIV/AIDS, click here. 

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