Researchers take an important step toward an HIV vaccine

May 17, 2017
Credit: University of Copenhagen

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have developed a strategy that can revolutionize vaccine design. The new strategy is used to develop vaccines that can prevent HIV infection and the development of AIDS.

Vaccines are an essential tool for preventing and treating serious infectious diseases such as polio, chicken pox and measles. But so far it has not been possible to develop vaccines capable of contributing to the treatment and prevention of chronic infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

This new research paves the way for vaccines that, as opposed to conventional methods, boosting the parts of the immune system attacking the viral genes, which are the least active during the infection. This prolongs the resistance of the immune system to the virus.

Traditional vaccines typically cause a strong stimulation of the parts of the immune system, that are most responsive to the specific virus. But the reaction to the and the infection is often so intense that the immune system 'loses momentum' and consequently is not able to completely eliminate the virus. Researchers have therefore designed a vaccine which boosts the cells of the immune system responsible for the less exposed parts of the virus. As a result, the cells are able to distribute the 'work load' and retain the defense against the virus attack for a longer period of time. This gives the immune system time to build a more efficient defense, which may then defeat the remaining of the virus.

"We're presenting an entirely new vaccine solution. Our vaccine supports the work of the immune system in developing an effective combating mechanism against the virus, rather than immediately combating the toughest parts of the virus. In combination with other vaccines, this approach can prove to have a highly efficient effect," says Research Team Leader and Associate Professor Peter Holst of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

In 2008, the research team decided to develop a new vaccine strategy, which generates so-called strong immune responses against weak immunostimulatory parts of viruses. Research initially focused on experiments on mice and later on monkeys.

Now, the results of the research team show, that this technology can control the SIV virus (simian immunodefiency virus) in monkeys. SIV is a chronic infectious disease and a highly realistic representation of HIV. The results are an important step toward developing a vaccine against HIV and other chronic infections.

"The next phase of our work is to build control in all infected animals and later in humans. We're convinced that it's possible to identify further improvements in our experiments and thus achieve a well-functioning vaccine, initially against HIV, but also against other chronic infections," says Peter Holst.

The study "Mucosal vaccination with heterologous viral vectored vaccine targeting subdominant SIV accessory antigens strongly inhibits early viral replication" was published in the scientific journal EbioMedicine.

Explore further: Engineered virus has artificial amino acid allowing it to serve as a vaccine

More information: Huanbin Xu et al. Mucosal Vaccination with Heterologous Viral Vectored Vaccine Targeting Subdominant SIV Accessory Antigens Strongly Inhibits Early Viral Replication, EBioMedicine (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.03.003

Related Stories

Engineered virus has artificial amino acid allowing it to serve as a vaccine

December 2, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at Peking University has developed a new type of vaccine that they claim may allow for a new approach to generating live virus vaccines which could conceivably be adapted to any type ...

More evidence that Zika mRNA vaccines can stop viral replication in mice

February 17, 2017
Vaccine developers have successfully protected mice against Zika by injecting synthetic messenger RNA that encodes for virus proteins into the animals. The cells of the mice then build parts of the virus, training the immune ...

The first live-attenuated vaccine candidate completely protects mice against Zika infection

April 10, 2017
The first live-attenuated Zika vaccine still in the development stage completely protected mice against the virus after a single vaccination dose, according to new research from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston ...

Scientists find new way to improve MERS vaccines

November 23, 2016
Since the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was identified in 2012, more than 1,800 people have been infected with the virus that causes MERS, and the fatality rate is a concerning 36 percent. There's still no approved ...

New Zika vaccine candidate protects mice and monkeys with a single dose

February 2, 2017
A new Zika vaccine candidate has the potential to protect against the virus with a single dose, according to a research team led by scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As reported ...

Inflammation triggers unsustainable immune response to chronic viral infection

October 21, 2016
Scientists at the University of Basel discovered a fundamental new mechanism explaining the inadequate immune defense against chronic viral infection. These results may open up new avenues for vaccine development. They have ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests a way to stop HIV in its tracks

December 1, 2017
When HIV-1 infects an immune cell, the virus travels to the nucleus so quickly there's not enough time to set off the cell's alarm system.

Discovery puts the brakes on HIV's ability to infect

November 30, 2017
Viewed with a microscope, the virus faintly resembles a pineapple—the universal symbol of welcome. But HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is anything but that. It has claimed the lives of more than 35 million people so far.

Rising levels of HIV drug resistance

November 30, 2017
HIV drug resistance is approaching and exceeding 10% in people living with HIV who are about to initiate or reinitiate first-line antiretroviral therapy, according to the largest meta-analysis to date on HIV drug resistance, ...

Male circumcision and antiviral drugs appear to sharply reduce HIV infection rate

November 29, 2017
A steep drop in the local incidence of new HIV infections accompanied the rollout of a U.S.-funded anti-HIV program in a large East-African population, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ...

Combination HIV prevention reduces new infections by 42 percent in Ugandan district

November 29, 2017
A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine provides real-world evidence that implementing a combination of proven HIV prevention measures across communities can substantially reduce new HIV infections ...

Research on HIV viral load urges updates to WHO therapy guidelines

November 24, 2017
A large cohort study in South Africa has revealed that that low-level viraemia (LLV) in HIV-positive patients who are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) is an important risk factor for treatment failure.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.