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HIV conquers immune system faster than previously realized
Date:7/18/2008

DURHAM, N.C. New research into the earliest events occurring immediately upon infection with HIV-I shows that the virus deals a stunning blow to the immune system earlier than was previously understood. According to scientists at Duke University Medical Center, this suggests the window of opportunity for successful intervention may be only a matter of days not weeks after transmission, as researchers had previously believed.

Appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Virology, the finding may make the challenge of designing an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine appear daunting. But researchers say the study has also yielded a blueprint for what a successful vaccine should look like, and moreover, when such a vaccine would need to work.

Until now, scientists believed that the window of opportunity to intervene in the process of HIV-1 infection lay in the three to four weeks between transmission and the development of an established pool of infected CD4 T cells. HIV-1 cripples the immune system by invading and killing CD4 T cells, key infection-fighters in the body.

"But this new study shows that HIV-I does a lot of damage to the immune system very early in that time frame, and now we feel that the opportunity to intervene most effectively may range from about five to seven days after infection," said Barton Haynes, M.D., the senior author of the study and director of the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) at Duke University Medical Center.

Haynes said the findings suggest that an optimal vaccine strategy would have to pack a double punch: First, establishing as much immunity as possible before infection, much as classic vaccines do, and then following a few days later with a mechanism to provoke a strong, secondary, broad-based antibody response. "Vaccine candidates to date have pretty much followed a single strategy. Now we know that we need to activate multiple arms of the immune system and we have a be
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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