Health In Focus


  • The HIV vaccine has been under development for several years; however, the development has not yielded a result
  • Scientists have developed a protein-sugar molecule that shows promise as a candidate molecule for the HIV vaccine
  • The molecule has been able to develop immunity against four strains of HIV in rabbits.

Researchers have developed a protein-sugar molecule that has the potential to elicit an immune response and be included in the HIV vaccine. The researchers published their study in Cell Chemical Biology.

The HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection, which causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), has devastated the lives of many the world over. It reduces immunity and makes the patient susceptible to repeated infections and rare cancers. The social stigma and the almost confirmed fatality often led to isolation of the patients in the past. The brisk response of scientists in developing medications prolonged and improved the lives of many patients. The infection also brought to light the need for preventive measures like the use of disposable syringes and safe sex.
New HIV Vaccine Candidate Molecule Developed

One aspect that has been researched for several years and is the need of the hour is the development of a vaccine for HIV. There have been several hurdles in the vaccine development, and success has eluded scientists despite intensive efforts. Some of the reasons are:
  • The virus has several strains and develops mutations. As a result, a vaccine developed against one strain will be ineffective against another strain.
  • The vaccines being developed could not generate antibodies against the sugar shield that surrounds the HIV virus.
Researchers have now developed a protein-sugar molecule, a three-component glycopeptide immunogen, as a candidate molecule that may be of use in the HIV vaccine. The protein consists of a part of the glycoprotein 120, the protein in the envelope of the HIV virus. Since glycoprotein 120 shows variations in the different HIV strains, the researchers selected a part of the protein which was similar in different HIV viral strains. Thus, a vaccine developed against this part could be effective across strains of HIV. The scientists linked it to a sugar group to form a glycoprotein molecule.

When they injected the molecule in rabbits:
  • The vaccine stimulated an immune response against the glycoprotein 120 found in four main strains responsible for HIV today in a period of two months. This was in contrast to the response produced when only the protein without the sugar was injected- in this case, the antibodies were produced only against one strain of the virus
  • A substantial immune response was produced in two months, which is a much shorter duration as compared to other studies, which took even up to four years.
The study is a small, however, significant step in the progress towards developing an efficient vaccine for HIV. Further research in the field with along with other vaccine candidates and for a longer duration will hopefully result in the development of an HIV vaccine in the near future.


  1. Hui Cai, Jared Orwenyo, John P. Giddens, Qiang Yang, Roushu Zhang, Celia C. LaBranche, David C. Montefiori, Lai-Xi Wang. Synthetic Three-Component HIV-1 V3 Glycopeptide Immunogens Induce Glycan-Dependent Antibody Responses. Cell Chemical Biology. DOI:

Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia