Scientists develop HIV vaccine strategy effective in monkeys, humans next?


A team of researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California has developed an HIV vaccine strategy that is found effective in monkeys. The primary goal of this experimental HIV vaccine strategy is to identify vulnerable areas of HIV, and to make the body's immune system develop adequate antibodies to protect those areas.

During the study, researchers found rhesus macaque monkeys producing neutralizing antibodies against one strain of HIV. It should be noted that this strain of HIV resembled a Tier2 virus, a resilient viral form known for infecting people.

In the study, the team of Scripps Research Institute re-vaccinated six low titer and six high titer monkeys. As their controlled group, researchers also studied 12 unimmunized monkeys. Later, the primates were exposed to a form of virus called SHIV, an engineered version of HIV virus.

SHIV is a strain of virus that is known as Tier2, and it is very hard to neutralize. It should be also noted that Tier2 is very similar to the HIV virus that spreads in humans. Soon, immunized monkeys produced sufficient levels of neutralizing antibodies to prevent infection.

The research report published in the journal Immunity also added that this is the first-ever estimate of vaccine-induced neutralizing antibody levels needed to protect against the infection of HIV.

"We found that neutralizing antibodies that have been induced by vaccination can protect animals against viruses that look a lot like real-world HIV," said Dennis Burton, a researcher at the Scripps Research Institute, and the 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), Science Daily reports.

Researchers believe that this new vaccine strategy, now experimented in monkeys will bring about positive effects in treating HIV among humans.

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