About Careers Internship MedBlog Contact us

Target Dormant DNA to Develop AIDS Vaccine

by Gopalan on November 12, 2007 at 12:38 PM
Target Dormant DNA to Develop AIDS Vaccine

The human immunodeficiency virus mutates fast frustrating efforts to create a vaccine. Alternatively one could perhaps target a fossil DNA, the genetic material from ancient viruses that has inserted itself into every human cell over our evolutionary history.

In a study published Friday in the journal PLoS Pathogens, US and Canadian researchers say it appears that HIV reactivates this usually dormant DNA — called human endogenous retroviruses, or HERVs — by disrupting the normal controls that keep it in check. So why not target that DNA to fight the virus is the logic.


In their study, the researchers looked at 29 people who were recently infected with HIV and compared them with 13 HIV-negative individuals and three others infected with hepatitis C but not the AIDS virus. In the group recently infected with HIV, they found a relationship between the degree of immune response to HERVs and the levels of HIV present in their blood.

In some HIV-positive individuals, the study found that infection-fighting T cells are able to target HERV-enabled cells, said co-principal author Brad Jones, a PhD candidate in immunology at the University of Toronto.

Jones said a huge stumbling block for scientists and drug companies seeking an effective vaccine is that HIV is like a moving target: it exists in many variations and constantly mutates.

If we can find other ways for the immune system to target HIV-infected cells, we can overcome this problem in making an HIV vaccine," co-author Dr. Keith Garrison, a postdoctoral fellow in experimental medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement. "HERV may provide us with a good target to test."

Even if a traditional vaccine does elicit an immune response, "the virus may still be able to escape," Jones said. "So it may not matter how hard we hit it."

But because HERVs are already part of our genetic makeup, they are virtually unable to mutate, he said. "So there's a great advantage in that in targeting HERV."

That's where the Trojan Horse idea comes in: HIV activates HERVs within the cell it enters, so a vaccine that takes aim to destroy HERVs will incidentally kill HIV and stop it from jumping to other cells, the researchers said.

In the latest setback in the quest for an HIV vaccine, drugmaker Merck and Co. announced Wednesday that an experimental AIDS shot not only failed to work, but volunteers who got the injections were more likely to get infected with the virus through sex or other risky behaviours than those who got dummy inoculations.

Merck had already announced in late September that it was stopping its trial because the vaccine did not work, raising the question of whether that failure is a harbinger of a similar fate for a number of other AIDS vaccines now being tested.

Source: Medindia
Font : A-A+



Recommended Readings

Latest Genetics & Stem Cells News

Genetic Insights Into Androgenetic Alopecia's
Innovative discoveries in male hair loss research uncover uncommon genetic variants tied to it.
Uncovering Genetic Harmony for Safer Hearts
Researchers achieved a significant milestone in uncovering the genetic basis of dilated cardiomyopathy in Dobermanns.
Gene Therapy Breaks Up New Dawn for Beta Thalassemia
Groundbreaking gene therapy for genetic beta thalassemia is now accessible as a treatment to a patient post-FDA approval.
Scientists Uncover Stem Cells in the Thymus for the First Time
Thymic stem cells actively participate in their environment by generating extracellular matrix proteins, essentially forming their own support system.
First Allogenic Stem Cell Transplant
Scientists aspire to utilize stem cell transplantation for pediatric patients grappling with blood-related conditions like aplastic anemia, and thalassemia.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close
Greetings! How can I assist you?MediBot

Target Dormant DNA to Develop AIDS Vaccine Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests