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5 June 2018, 13:41
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Scientists create a vaccine that neutralizes dozens of HIV strains

Scientists create a vaccine that neutralizes dozens of HIV strains - picture 1

A group of researchers from the United States developed and tested a new promising HIV vaccine on humanized models of rodents and macaques, capable of immunizing more than 30% of strains of the virus, according to Nature Medicine.

According to the director of the National Institutes for the Study of Allergies and Infections, Anthony Fauci, his colleagues found vulnerable areas of HIV, and this discovery can be the beginning of creating a truly reliable method of protecting against HIV infection.

As is known, the virus of immunodeficiency is introduced into human cells with the help of a set of special proteins located on the surface of HIV. The structure of these enzymes, in addition to the penetration function, also serves as the protection of the virus from immunity. This is one of the most volatile parts of HIV, it is constantly being updated, not giving immunity "to pick up a key" to it from a set of antibodies. This is the main reason that an effective vaccine against HIV has not yet been developed.

According to scientists, already 3-4 years after the entry of HIV into the body, the immune system starts generating so-called bnAbs - universal antibodies capable of suppressing several types of strains at once. However, this belated reaction of the body can already help to cope with HIV infection: by this time the virus penetrates too deeply.

Attempts to "teach" immunity to synthesize universal antibodies to date have not been successful.

However, as early as 2016, a group of virologists from the National Institutes for the Study of Allergies and Infections, led by Peter Kwong, made an unusual discovery. They detected the antibody N123-VRC34, which is attached not to the surface of HIV, but to the site responsible for fusion-the gp41 protein. The structure of this peptide, scientists explain, in comparison with other parts of the virus remains virtually unchanged, that is, it can be used as a starting point for the creation of a vaccine.

Specialists have established which site of gp41 is the basis for anchoring the antibody. Then they artificially duplicated these parts.

As shown in humanized models of mice and macaques, the most active variants of the protein prevented the infection of 70 of 208 known today strains of HIV.

To date, this is a record figure for vaccines.

At the moment, the group continues to work on finding new sets of proteins, looking for more effective antibodies and their combinations interacting with gp41.

It is expected that clinical studies of the first version of the vaccine will start in July 2019.

Author: Lilia Ten

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