Researchers from Duke University have Discovered a Way to Elicit an Immune Response in Individuals Infected With HIV-1, the Most Common Form of the Virus

HIV Vaccine on the Horizon: Researchers Design HIV Immunogens

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Researchers from Duke University have Discovered a Way to Elicit an Immune Response in Individuals Infected With HIV-1, the Most Common Form of the Virus

Researchers from Duke University have Discovered a Way to Elicit an Immune Response in Individuals Infected With HIV-1, the Most Common Form of the Virus

The director of the Duke Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Dr.Barton Haynes, recently published his teams findings in the reputable scientific journal ‘Cell.’

In a previous study led by Hayes last year, his team discovered that broadly neutralizing antibodies have co-evolved with the virus in infected individuals. These antibodies are known as the bnAbs lineage. The new study has discovered the specific viruses that trigger the production of this group of antibodies. ‘HIV bnAbs are potent antibodies that can protect against infection, but because they have unusual properties, they are not readily induced by current vaccines,’ said Dr. Haynes.

The new study has also discovered how B cells secrete these bnAbs antibodies and how they neutralize many HIV strains. These new findings accompany another recent HIV research breakthrough that has found a way to predict which HIV patients will respond better to a future therapeutic vaccine. 

The researchers found that B cells secrete two sets of neutralizing antibodies: a ‘helper’ set and cross-reactive neutralizing set (which is found in 20% of HIV-1 infected people.) These two sets of antibodies work together to guide the bnAbs antibodies to fight certain HIV strains. The two sets of antibodies attack the HIV viral envelope, which enables bnAbs to stick to the envelope.

The researchers have identified the particular viral envelopes that elicit the bnAbs immune response in individuals infected with HIV-1.

‘The ultimate proof of utility of this discovery is to use it to design immunogens that can induce broadly neutralizing antibodies by vaccination,’ says Dr.Haynes.

Using their findings, the researchers say they have already developed vaccine immunogens that selectively trigger both the helper neutralizing antibodies and cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies to produce bnAbs. These immunogens do this in a manner that simulates the natural production of bnAbs that occurs during HIV infection

This discovery could pave the way for a breakthrough HIV vaccine in the near future.

Read more about the study here: Cooperation of B Cell Lineages in Induction of HIV-1-Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies

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