News / Africa

Research Shedding Light on Role of Anti-bodies in Fight against HIV/AIDS

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Over the last six months, scientists have revealed they’ve learned a lot more about human anti-bodies, which could lead to a better designed AIDS vaccine candidate.

Anti-bodies are proteins that fight off infection from viruses, bacteria and other foreign objects.  However, they’ve not been able to mount enough of a response to stop HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in its tracks.

“Vaccine development historically relies on anti-body responses.  Vaccines generally are meant to boost the immune response and to help the body fight off a coming attack,” says Mitchell Warren, head of AVAC, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition.

He describes a strong anti-body response as “the secret of success for most vaccines.  So it’s been very much the target for AIDS vaccine research and development.”

Looking for HIV weaknesses

“A lot of the research has been focusing on the actual structure,” he says, “of the virus itself.  And as we learn more about how the virus is structured, that may help us unlock how to develop a vaccine.”

Some of the scientific techniques being used to study anti-bodies and HIV didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago.

“So what we’re seeing now are the beginnings of the fruits of technological labor applied to the AIDS vaccine effort.  And it’s really just a beginning.  We need to see a great deal more of that done to really unlock the promise of science,” he says.

While anti-bodies respond quickly to many diseases, the immune response to HIV is not quick enough.

“HIV is highly mutating.  So it’s constantly changing to evade the immune system, which makes it very hard to lock down the immune response and a vaccine to help boost that,” he says.

Taking a closer look

Early anti-body research regarding HIV concentrated on the outer layers of virus.  But over the last six months scientists have reported possible new targets in different parts of HIV.

“We don’t know exactly what to make of this and how to apply that to a vaccine yet, but the work now is to try to take advantage of these new targets,” Warren says.

If indeed antibodies responded more quickly against HIV, could they defeat it?

“It hasn’t yet,” he says.  However, there are people infected with HIV whose immune systems are able to fend off the virus without the help of anti-retroviral drugs.  Similar findings are found in monkeys infected with SIV, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus.

“We’re really at a point right now in AIDS vaccine research – more than ever before I think – where it’s a question of how do you translate these…findings…into vaccine design and vaccine development.  And that’s really the next big step forward,” he says.

He says things have changed in the last six months.

“We’re in a new world in AIDS vaccine research.  Does it mean we have a vaccine around the corner?  No.  But it does mean we have more kind of bricks in the foundation on which we need to build a vaccine than we’ve ever had,” says the AVAC head.

Last year, a study of an AIDS vaccine candidate in Thailand indicated that it is possible to control HIV with a vaccine.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid