Four antibodies that target weak spots on the HIV virus may pave the way for scientists to create a vaccine for the virus, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) announced Tuesday.
The study, published in the November issue of ‘Immunity’, looks at the four prototype antibodies that target specific weak spots on the HIV virus.
“This study is an example of how we can learn from natural infection and translate that information into vaccine development,” said TSRI Research Associate Raiees Andrabi, the first author of the study, in a statement. “This is an important advance in the field of antibody-based HIV vaccine development.”
The four antibodies scientists examined targeted the V2 apex, a spot on the surface of about 90 percent of known HIV virus strains.
“This region helps stabilize the virus, so it’s an important area to target if you want to neutralize HIV,” said Andrabi in a statement.
Unlike other antibodies, two of those four antibodies bound with the V2 apex without having to mutilate, scientists said, demonstrating that our body’s immune system could develop antibodies to neutralize many strains of HIV with prompting, according to a new study.
If scientists were to build a vaccine targeting the V2 apex, they said, the vaccine may be able to protect against many known strains of the HIV virus.
The immune system naturally produces a small number of these antibodies, and in the study, scientists said they successfully mimicked the structure of those antibodies.
The next step is testing the candidates for the vaccine in animals.