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HIV vaccine approach shows promise


A US strategy for developing a vaccine for HIV, based on training the immune system, is providing hope for an effective future treatment.


Currently there is no vaccine that can prevent or treat HIV and the main challenge lies with the fact that the virus’s genome mutates very rapidly, making it difficult to generate an immune response against it with a vaccine, through the production of antibodies.

Four recent studies, conducted by teams led by the Scripps Research Institute, California, focused on immune B cells that produce antibodies as a potential approach.


The animal studies used different approaches, either teaching B cells to produce broad responses against different HIV strains, or guiding the B cells to bind to different parts of the virus. This is needed because B cells that can generate broad responses for HIV are rare.


This approach successfully blocked different strains of the virus when conducted in one study using monkeys and three studies in mice.


It is not yet known whether the findings will translate to humans, but Shane Crotty, at Scripps and La Jolla Institute for Immunology, said, ‘there are all of these collateral benefits from this work that will improve health, not only for infectious diseases but noncommunicable diseases as well’.

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