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Experts Identify Vaccine Target for HIV

An international team of researchers has identified three gene variants in the DNA of 486 people infected with HIV that appear to have helped some of the patients fight off the virus and delay the onset of full-blown AIDS.

The researchers expect the new findings to aid the search for an HIV vaccine that would work by boosting the protective effects of one or more of these genes, and help the bodys own immune system overcome an infection. One of the genes looks particularly attractive as a vaccine target.

These findings represent only the first of what investigators said will be a series of future genome-wide studies to pinpoint additional targets for HIV vaccines. In the new analysis, patients with specific gene variants in key immune system cells appear to be much better at controlling the proliferation of the virus after infection. These gene variants are known as polymorphisms.

These results not only approximately double our understanding of the factors that influence variation amongst individuals in how they control HIV-1, but also point towards new mechanisms of control, said David Goldstein, Ph.D., director of the Center for Population Genomics and Pharmacogenetics at Dukes Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and the senior author of the paper.

As we expand the number of patients in future studies conducted by CHAVI researchers, we aim to discover even more polymorphisms that could provide additional clues how some patients are better able to control the virus than others. This should ultimately lead to novel targets for vaccines, the primary goal of CHAVI., Goldstein.said.

Two of the polymorphisms found were in genes controlling the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system, which plays a major role in the immune system by identifying foreign invaders and tagging them for destruction.

Two of the HLA genes, known as HLA-A and B, are turned off by HIV when it enters the body,
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