Experimental HIV vaccine successfully elicits antibodies that neutralize viruses in rabbits

Research for the development of a truly effective vaccine for HIV continues. A new study, this time conducted by the scientists of the Scripps Research Institute and published on Immunity describes the results that the same researchers have obtained with an experimental vaccine, results that have led to “an important milestone.” It is a vaccine that urges antibodies so that they can neutralize a wide variety of HIV strains.

For now, tests have been carried out on rabbits but the same antibodies have proven to be “largely neutralizing” when they targeted at least two critical virus sites. These results give researchers hope for the development of a new, effective HIV vaccine, a vaccine that can elicit neutralizing antibodies at multiple HIV sites to provide a solid production against this virus.

“It is an initial principle test but important, and we are now working to optimize the design of this vaccine,” says Richard Wyatt, professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps as well as one of the authors of the study. The new vaccine is based on a protein that mimics HIV protein called “Env.” In fact, this protein boasts a molecular mechanism that allows it to bind to an immune cell receptor known as CD4. This receptor can be used as a “portal” to break into the cell.

The Env version designed by researchers is stable enough to be used as a vaccine, at least on rabbits. Out of 12 animals with HIV on which this particular protein was inoculated, five developed antibodies that could neutralize more HIV isolates.