Published By : 05 Jun 2018 | Published By : QYRESEARCH
An experimental vaccine developed by NIH scientists, which is based on the detailed knowledge pertaining to a vulnerable site on the virus, has shown success in eliciting antibodies in monkeys, mice, and guinea pigs capable of neutralizing several strains of HIV from across the globe. The study is an essential step ahead in the direction of the development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine.
An initial human trial of the vaccine is expected to start in the second half of 2019. The vaccine has been developed based on the approach of developing a vaccine capable of eliciting powerful HIV antibodies that can deactivate several HIV strains. Over the years, researchers have discovered several naturally occurring and powerful antibodies that can fight several HIV strains, restricting infections to human cells, in laboratory studies. Nearly half of the people with HIV naturally make these antibodies, but often after several years after the body is infected with the virus, which is after the virus has long established a stronghold in the body.
Over the years, scientists have found out the sites, also called epitopes, on the structure of HIV virus where all of the currently known neutralizing antibodies attach. Several laboratories across the globe are in the process of developing HIV vaccines on the basis of these epitopes with the aim of making the immune systems of HIV-negative people more used to developing the antibodies post vaccination.
The experimental vaccine developed by NIH researchers has been based on HIV fusion peptide, an epitope that was characterized by scientist from the NIAID in 2016. Scientists suggest that the epitope is particularly important for making a vaccine as its structure is the same in most HIV strain knows to affect humans and owing to the fact that the human immune system clearly identifies it and develops a strong immune response against it.
For making the vaccine, the researchers developed several different varieties of immunogens, which are proteins that activate an immune response. The immunogens were designed with the help of the known structure of the fusion peptide. The immunogens were assessed using a set of antibodies that target epitope, and then it was examined which immunogens stimulated HIV-neutralizing antibodies most effectively to the fusion peptide in mice.