Antibodies Targeting Holes Found On HIV Protective Shield Could Lead To Novel Vaccine Development

First Posted: Sep 14, 2016 04:20 AM EDT

In a recent study, researchers were able to find a way to specifically locate HIV particles using specific antibodies particularly targeting holes in HIV's protective sugar "glycan" shield.

According to Medical Daily, the research was done by a collaboration of researchers from Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and Cornell University in New York. In the report, Laura McCoy, lead researcher from TSRI said: "From work on HIV-positive individuals, we knew that the best way to understand an antibody response is to isolate the individual antibodies and study them in detail". She was the one who designed the glycoprotein (envelope Env) trimmer which is a version of synthesized HIV protein.

Now the researchers are focusing on how to exploit the high sensitivity of these antibodies which target holes in an HIV particle to create a whole new mechanism in HIV treatment and vaccine development.

"It's important now to evaluate future vaccine candidates to more rapidly understand the immune response they induce to particular glycan holes and learn from it," said TSRI Professor Dennis R. Burton, who is also scientific director of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Neutralizing Antibody Center and of the National Institutes of Health's Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID) at TSRI.

According to an article on Scripps Research Institute website, 89 percent of the HIV strains out of thousands analyzed appears to have the targetable hole in their protective envelope.  They said that this discovery could revolutionize vaccine design and production wherein by studying molecular details in the virus components, a highly specific antibody could be developed to induce the immune system.  Ward, one of the lead researchers, added that newly discovered technique can also be applied to potentially develop vaccines for other viruses like influenza and Ebola viruses.

The full research was published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

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