The Epidemic

Breakthrough Vaccine

We may be one giant step closer to solving HIV thanks to a new vaccine set to start human trials next year.

A new experimental vaccine regimen, tailor made to fit of the structure of a vulnerable region on HIV, generated antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys, and it neutralized dozens of HIV strains. The findings will lead to human clinical trials for a vaccine capable of neutralizing a large fraction of common HIV strains, reports

The findings were published  in the journal Nature Medicine, and it was led by investigators from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which falls under the National Institutes of Health.

“NIH scientists have used their detailed knowledge of the structure of HIV to find an unusual site of vulnerability on the virus and design a novel and potentially powerful vaccine,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. 

“This elegant study is a potentially important step forward in the ongoing quest to develop a safe and effective HIV vaccine.”

The vaccine is epitope-based. An epitope is the specific site of an antigen to which an antibody binds. This vaccine is based on the site of a broad number of HIV strains that antibodies can bind to. This epitope was identified only two years ago.

Now, investigators are looking at ways to improve the vaccine candidate by making it more potent and provide more consistent results. It’s one of the latest approaches in their attempt to develop a broadly neutralizing vaccine fit for the public that works on multiple strains of HIV.