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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs