Researchers behind a couple of studies published concurrently in the journals Cell and Science claim to have found an immunogen known as eOD-GT8 60mer which could prove effective against HIV.
While vaccines ordinarily employ dead or inactive versions of viruses to provoke the production of antibodies, HIV has proven itself a worthy adversary to such traditional techniques as it evades detection and rapidly mutates. As a result, the authors of the new study took a new route.
The immunogen, which was designed by a team at The Scripps Research Institute’s (TSRI) International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, produces antibody precursors which, according to the scientists behind the study, possess some of the abilities required to recognize and block the human immunodeficiency virus.
In mice, the experimental vaccine candidate proved capable of stimulating the immune system activity necessary to stop HIV infection.
Dennis Burton, PhD, chairman of the TSRI Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, was quoted in a Scripps news release as having referred to the results of the studies as “pretty spectacular.”
The results are pretty spectacular
While the new research has shown that the experimental vaccine candidate is capable of stimulating the immune system activity necessary to stop HIV infection in mice, the researchers also tested eOD-GT8 60mer on rabbits and nonhuman primate models.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially designated all chimpanzees, both wild and captive, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, certain activities involving chimps will be prohibited without a permit, however, the Service intends on working closely with the biomedical research community to issue permits for biomed research which requires chimps as test subjects.
The long-term goal of the researchers behind the studies is to design a vaccine which activates the production of HIV-binding antibodies which prevent infection.
What do you think, will this latest breakthrough in HIV prevention lead to a vaccine anytime soon?