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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs