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Scripps research scientists devise approach that stops HIV at earliest stage of infection
Date:2/27/2008

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have developed a new two-punch strategy against HIV and they have already successfully tested aspects of it in the laboratory.

Their study, which appears this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may re-energize attempts to create a preventive/therapeutic vaccine against HIV, say the authors. To date, more than a dozen candidate vaccines, which have attempted to raise immunity against the spiky proteins on the viral envelope, have all failed in clinical testing.

The investigators have created devices they call glycodendrons that are designed to do two things at once: inhibit the transport of HIV from where it traditionally enters the body, preventing it from moving deeper inside where it can infect immune cells; and set up an immune antibody response to a unique carbohydrate structure on the surface of the virus.

This paper is about a new direction in HIV vaccine design, said the studys lead investigator, Scripps Research Chemistry Professor Chi-Huey Wong. Results we have so far are very promising.

To date, he says the devices have been able to stimulate the immune system of mice to induce antibodies against HIV surface glycoprotein, and, in laboratory studies, have been able to block the virus from infecting immune cells.

Targeting One Multi-Purpose Area on HIV

This new approach capitalizes on two recent findings in the field of HIV research. One is the discovery that HIV takes a Trojan horse approach to reach cells it needs to infect deep inside the human body. Scientists have described how, when the virus enters the body through sexual contact, it hitches a ride with the dendritic cells of the immune system that stand guard for invaders at the mucosal lining of tissues. The virus outsmarts these cells, however, and latches onto a particular receptor protein, known as DC-SIGN, on the dendritic cells. By sti
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Contact: Mika Benedyk
mbenedyk@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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