Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute based in La Jolla has finally pushed a step closer in finding HIV cure by creating a vaccine that would command the body to manufacture antibodies to bind the viruses and prevent the failing of the immune system.
“We’ve taken a little bit of HIV and engineered it so that it activates the immune system super well,” said David Nemazee, professor at Scripps.
But because of HIV’s complex traits that enabled it to sidestep the immune system’s detection system, it can still mutate and reproduce rapidly to new strains.
“Instead, we are focusing the immune response on the Achilles heel of the problem,” explained Nemazee.
This new approach leaves the traditional mechanism of vaccine behind that instead of using inactive proteins to fight the virus, this vaccine would be “training” the immune system to better detect HIV constituents.
The HIV’s main mechanism is to destroy the helper T cell’s ability to alarm the body of foreign matters. With this, the body is left vulnerable to any known microorganisms that can cause infection and diseases.
“The response is antibodies. Now the antibodies are made better than they would be naturally and more specifically,” he said.
Supposedly, the new batch of antibodies would latch on the vaccine, stay in the blood and then battle against the virus.
Currently, there’s still no cure for HIV. Drug therapies have been the forefront treatment option to HIV positive patients but this only slows its progression. HIV can be acquired from unprotected sex and blood exchange from used syringes and medical equipments.
Scripps scientists have only tested their vaccine with mice but still, the results were extremely promising. For their next move, they are planning to design a menu of booster shots to produce a reaction that would develop an immune system capable of recognizing and fighting HIV.