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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs