New research conducted at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) suggests that it may be possible to develop a vaccine that protects against the myriad strains of the HIV virus.
HIV is extremely variable, so an effective vaccine may need to stimulate the body to produce cross-reactive antibodies that will neutralize multiple viral strains. These results demonstrate that induction of truly broad-spectrum neutralizing antibodies may be an achievable goal. This groundbreaking study titled: “Extensively Cross-Reactive Anti-HIV-1 Neutralizing Antibodies Induced by gp140 Immunization” appears this week in the Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences http://www.pnas.org/papbyrecent.shtml.
To be effective, an HIV vaccine must induce the body to produce cross-reactive antibodies that can neutralize multiple strains. USU Professors CAPT Gerald Quinnan, Jr., M.D., USPHS, and Christopher Broder, Ph.D., and their colleagues at USU attempted to elicit these broad-range antibodies in an animal model by immunizing with a particular HIV-1 surface protein, designated R2 gp140, and an immune response-boosting component. The researchers tested antibodies generated by the immunizations to determine their effectiveness in neutralizing the infectivity of a variety of HIV-1 strains. Antibodies produced as a result of immunization neutralized all 48 strains of HIV-1 tested. The results are encouraging for vaccine development, because they showed that it is possible to elicit a broad-spectrum antibody response.
The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (http://www.usuhs.edu) is located on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The University provides military and public health-relevant education, research, service and consultation to the nation and the world. USU is a typical academic health center with a unique focus on health promotion and disease prevention, and with the specialized mission of educating health care practitioners to deal with peace- and wartime casualties, natural disasters, emerging infectious diseases and other public health emergencies.
This research was supported by a grant from a number of collaborators including the National Institutes of Health/NIAID and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc.
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF; www.hjf.org) is a not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to support military medical research and education at USU and throughout military medicine. HJF's technology transfer staff and the USU-HJF Joint Office of Technology Transfer encourage scientists and private industry to collaborate on research and development projects, with the goal of making innovative medical technologies available for public use.