Researchers explore new avenue to AIDS vaccine

Stymied by a fruitless 25-year search for an AIDS vaccine, some investigators are taking a radically different approach to protecting people from a virus that claims more than two million victims each year.

In a new paper published in Nature, researchers at Rockefeller University discuss how they recruited six people whose natural immune system was strong enough to contain HIV and prevent the virus from developing into AIDS. They isolated 502 antibodies in the six volunteers, cloned them and began to delve into how they work. And they believe that a package of 20 or 50 of these antibodies could be used to protect new patients from AIDS.

"It's the first time that anybody has really looked at what the antibody response is," senior investigator Michel Nussenzweig, head of the Rockefeller University's Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, tells Time magazine. "If we know what can work in nature, then the next step would be, Let's see if we can reproduce it."

As researchers have discovered, HIV acts in ways that are very hard to predict. And several in the field say that while the antibody approach will take a considerable amount of time to properly explore, it offers an exciting new approach after years of failure.

- read the article in Time magazine