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Scripps Research scientists shed new light on how antibodies fight HIV
Date:9/6/2007

By furthering scientists understanding of the molecular mechanisms that separate the minority of successful HIV antibodies from the majority of ineffective antibodies, the work may have implications for future attempts to design an HIV vaccine.

The study was published on September 6, 2007, in the journal Nature.

This study is part of the effort to understand how protection against HIV occurs, says Dennis Burton, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute. If we really understand this, then we can design tailor-made vaccines in a way that has never been done before.

Although vaccines have long been used with great success to prevent diseases, scientists are still learning about the exact mechanisms of how vaccines work and how the antibodies that vaccines prompt the body to create can neutralize a pathogen. The spread of HIV, which is resistant to most antibodies the body produces against it, has made fully understanding this method of action more urgent.

With this in mind, Burton and colleagues sought to tease apart the action of the b12 antibody-one of the rare antibodies that protects against the HIV virus. The antibody, first identified by Burton, Scripps Research Professor Carlos Barbas III, and colleagues in 1992, originally came from the bone marrow of a 31-year-old male who had been HIV positive without symptoms for six years.

In the current study, researchers created mutated versions of b12 to see what effect various changes would have on the antibodys effectiveness.

Hopefully, we can work backwards towards a vaccine, using b12 and the very few other really great, broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV that have been found, says Scripps Research Senior Research Associate Ann Hessell, who was first author of the Nature paper jointly with Lars Hangartner, a Scripps Research postdoctoral fellow.

Results from the new study suggest the importance of antibody activity against both infec
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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