The joint efforts of scientists from multiple research organizations in the US have led to the discovery of a possible way of blocking the spread of HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus). The study published in the journals Cell and Science was conducted by researchers from IAVI (International AIDS Vaccine Initiative), Rockefeller University and TSRI (the Scripps Research Institute).
So far scientists have used in other experiments a microbe which was dead or inactive in order to trigger the antibodies production. However this could not be applied in the case of HIV because the natural proteins of the viral strain cannot trigger the expected immune response. HIV can pass undetected by the immune system and is able to quickly mutate into new strains.
In order to deal with this problem researchers thought of using immunogen proteins in order to help the body generate antibodies which can neutralize HIV. For this to be possible the patient must be exposed several times to the immunogen.
The researchers tested an immunogen protein known as eOD-GT8 60mer on mice. eOD-GT8 60mer can bind an activate the B cells which are needed to fight HIV. Using B cell sorting the scientists observed how the protein managed to trigger the production of the needed antibodies which could block the spreading of HIV. This can be applied in the first stage of immunization.
After the lab mice were injected the researchers observed their reaction over a period of time. It seems that the animals started neutralizing the HIV strain the moment they came across it.
With this discovery it seems that researchers have developed a way of in which to accelerate the defense system of the body so as to make it curb the HIV infection. The lead researchers of the study were Professors David Nemazee and Dennis Burton from TSRI, Michel Nussenzweig from Rockefeller University and Willian Schief from IAVI.
The eOD-GT8 60mer protein was developed in Schief’s laboratory and the mice on which it was tested were modified by Nemazee so the animals could produce antibodies which were similar to those present in the human body.
Their experimental HIV vaccine could stimulate the body’s immune system and stop the spreading of HIV.
Image Source: Iran Daily