A team of researchers from Duke University and Harvard are developing a new blueprint towards making a successful vaccine against HIV, giving new hopes to the researches continuing for the last 35 years.
The scientists have worked towards making a vaccine that can imitate a rare process in the immune system that is seen in persons with HIV. This process can help reduce the viral load of the body, explain the researchers.
Researchers said it was just the first step in the development of an effective vaccine against the infection. Barton Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, who was the lead author of the study said in a statement, “For the first 20 years after the virus was discovered, the field tried to make a vaccine using the techniques that all the successful measles, mumps, rubella, polio vaccines had been made within the past. And none of those worked.”
He explained that the virus is constantly changing and thus every vaccine developed failed to generate antibodies that could fight the infection off. The researchers explained in their work that in around 20 percent of the persons infected with HIV, the immune system makes a special protein called “broadly neutralizing antibodies” (bnAbs).
There have been studies where animal models of HIV have been injected with these antibodies and results showed that new infections could be prevented by these injections. This protection however did not last and was too short lived explain the researchers. To make an effective vaccine the researchers needed a shot that would provide long term protection from HIV infection.