DURHAM, N.C. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School have demonstrated an approach to HIV vaccine design that uses an altered form of HIV's outer coating or envelope protein.
The researchers showed that they could design HIV envelopes that could bind better to immature B cell receptors to create an enhanced immune response in an animal model. Immature B cells are the targets of vaccines, and when strongly targeted, they produce strong vaccine responses. The work of the Duke team was to improve on the ability of the HIV envelope to target immature B cells of the immune system.
"This is first step towards a new way of making vaccines against HIV: targeting immature immune cells and attempting to drive a pathway of events that rarely occur," said Barton Haynes, M.D., co-senior author and director of the national Center for HIV-AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) laboratory and Frederic M. Hanes Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Duke University School of Medicine. "This avenue of research provides additional evidence about why some of the earlier, traditional vaccine approaches for HIV may not have been successful."
The study was published in the Sept. 1 issue of PLoS Pathogens.
Handcrafting vaccines that will stimulate different stages of the pathway toward immunity looks to be important, Haynes said. A vaccine usually uses a part of the virus (like part of its outer coating) or a harmless form of the virus to create a strong immune response against the virus.
This new work is the first time researchers have made an HIV envelope that binds better to precursor antibodies and also stimulates better immunity, compared with a natural envelope, in primates.
Hua-Xin Liao, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine in the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) and co-senior author, created the altered HIV outer coats. "Roadblocks thrown up by
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Duke University Medical Center