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

Photogallery Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid