Researchers led by Barton Haynes director of the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute, believe they have found a new way to tip the odds in the immune system’s favor.
When people are infected with the HIV virus the immune system goes on alert and immediately generates antibodies designed to attach and destroy HIV. After the first few weeks these antibodies are successful at eliminating all but a few viruses. Unfortunately, there are too many mutations of this virus and the body goes under attack. The body is not able to keep up with the virus and pushes out poor, or no more additional antibodies that can neutralize HIV.
What were researchers able to do?
Haynes and researchers were able to carefully map the different mutations that HIV generates, and the resulting antibodies made against them in an African patient who is able to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies, Haynes and his colleagues believe they have come up with a way to drive the immune system to preferentially churn out these HIV-fighting immune cells.
Haynes says “We have a map on how to recreate the sequential (versions of HIV) that could drive particular antibody lineages.”
What will a HIV vaccine do to fight the virus?
A vaccine will probably need to generate several of these broadly neutralizing antibodies; each person tends to make unique versions that have differing efficacy in stopping HIV.
Picture by Sassy Mom