Navigation Links
Vaccines for HIV: A new design strategy

San Diego, Calif. HIV has eluded vaccine-makers for thirty years, in part due to the virus' extreme ability to mutate. Physical scientists and clinical virologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ragon Institute in Cambridge, Mass., have identified a promising strategy for vaccine design using a mathematical technique that has also been used in problems related to quantum physics, as well as in analyses of stock market price fluctuations and studies of enzyme sequences. The team, led by Arup Chakraborty of MIT and Bruce Walker of the Ragon Institute, will give an update on its work at the Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting, held Feb. 25-29 in San Diego, Calif.

Vaccines prime the immune system to target molecular signatures associated with a particular pathogen. But HIV's ability to mutate has made it difficult to identify reliable vaccine targets. In their search for a new type of target, the team from the Ragon Institute did not focus on individual amino acids. Instead, the researchers sought to identify independently evolving groups of amino acids where, within each group, amino acids mutate in tandem (meaning that they rely on one another to maintain the viability of the virus). In particular, they looked for groups of amino acids within which combinations of mutations would have a greater chance of making the virus unviable. By staging a multi-pronged attack against these regions of HIV, the researchers reasoned, they might be able to trap the virus between two bad choices: be destroyed by the immune system, or mutate and destroy itself.

With a mathematical tool called random matrix theory, the team searched for high-order evolutionary constraints in the so-called Gag region of HIV. The researchers were looking for collectively co-evolving groups of amino acids with a high number of negative correlations (meaning multiple mutations would destroy the virus) and a low number of positive correlations (meaning the virus could survive multiple mutations). They found this combination in a region, which they call Gag sector 3, that is involved in stabilizing the protein shell of the virus: too many mutations here, and the virus' structure would collapse.

Interestingly, when the team studied HIV-infected individuals whose bodies are naturally able to fend off the virus' attacks so-called "elite controllers" they found that these individuals' immune systems preferentially targeted Gag sector 3 over other proteins.

At the moment, the study authors are working to extend their methods to HIV proteins beyond Gag. The team is also developing elements of the active components of a vaccine that would prime the immune system to selectively target Gag sector 3 proteins. They expect to begin testing in animal models soon.

The presentation, "Analysis of collective coevolution in HIV proteins suggests strategies for rational vaccine design," will be presented by Dr. Chakraborty's graduate student Karthik Shekhar at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the San Diego Convention Center, Room 24ABC. ABSTRACT:


Contact: Ellen R. Weiss
American Institute of Physics

Related biology news :

1. New type of vaccines deliver stronger and faster immune response
2. Vaccines and autism: Many hypotheses, but no correlation
3. New evidence explains poor infant immune response to certain vaccines, says MU researcher
4. Princeton teams analysis of flu virus could lead to better vaccines
5. Study shows cancer vaccines led to long-term survival for patients with metastatic melanoma
6. Pitt researchers find promising candidate protein for cancer prevention vaccines
7. Bug barcode readers hold out promise of universal vaccines
8. Major breakthrough may pave the way for therapeutic vaccines
9. GEN reports on the promise of DNA vaccines
10. Vaccines preventing pneumococcal disease protect African children with sickle-cell disease
11. Prescription drug could boost effects of vaccines for HIV and other diseases
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... New York , November 4, 2015 ... to a new market report published by Transparency Market ... Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global ... of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market is ... the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising security ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions ... the entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to ... High Tech Association (MHTA) as one of only three ... the "Software – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards ... who have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... and NEW YORK , November 24, 2015 ... by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a European ... Squibb Company in which the companies will work closely ... and other areas of unmet medical need. The collaboration is ... 5, the latest LSP fund. This is the first investment ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... NEW YORK , Nov. 24, 2015 According ... today than in 2005. This is something that many doctors, ... long time. One questions remains: with fewer PSA tests being ... cancer ? Dr. David Samadi, "Despite ... cancer, the disease remains the second leading cancer cause of ...
(Date:11/23/2015)...   Ceres, Inc . (Nasdaq: CERE ), ... the fiscal year ended August 31, 2015 and provided ... --> During fiscal year 2015, Ceres ... with a better balance of yield, energy and nutrition. ... several leading crop input providers and made significant progress ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Shimadzu Corporation announces that it has won ... system. The award from R&D magazine recognizes Shimadzu’s Nexera UC system as one ... analytical and testing category. R&D Magazine chose the Nexera UC system because its ...
Breaking Biology Technology: