Currently, many vaccines use a dead or inactive version of the disease-causing microbe to trigger antibody production. But, immunizations with native HIV proteins are ineffective in triggering an effective immune response, due to HIV's ability to evade detection from the immune system and mutate rapidly into new strains. This challenge has led researchers to believe that a successful AIDS vaccine will need to consist of a series of related but slightly different proteins called immunogens to train the body to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies. An experimental vaccine candidate may have the potential to stimulate the immune system to block HIV infection.
The vaccine reportedly contains a special class of immune system molecules that can bind to and neutralize a wide range of globally occurring HIV variants. The findings may represent a leap forward in the effort to develop a vaccine against HIV, which has so far struggled to elicit antibodies that can effectively fight off different strains of the virus.
In the new studies, the researcher team tested one of the potential proteins, an immunogen called eOD-GT8 60mer, which would bind to and activate B cells needed to fight HIV. Using a technique called B cell sorting, the researchers showed that immunization with eOD-GT8 60mer caused two different mouse models to produce antibody precursors, which have some of the traits necessary to recognize and block HIV infection. The researchers said, "This suggested that eOD-GT8 60mer could be a good candidate to serve as the first in a series of immunizations against HIV."
The study has been published in the Cell and Science.