TSRI-led team tracks antibody origin, development in HIV vaccine work

With the research and knowledge aimed at developing a potential HIV vaccine continuing to mount, a team led by The Scripps Research Institute this week unveiled its research into a family of antibodies that could be capable of creating a broad response against the virus.

The team examined the origins and development of an antibody group dubbed PG121 that so far haven't been created through HIV vaccination strategies. According to the researchers, different branches within the family developed different methods to get around HIV's defensive glycan shield. With the knowledge, the team argued, scientists may develop strategies for HIV vaccination using the antibody group.

Additionally, through the use of high-resolution imaging, the team was able to create a 3-D "map" of the HIV Envelope glycoprotein structure, which the virus uses to attach and infiltrate host cells. The researchers stated the image will further assist in vaccine development.

The study comes one month after a separate group of TSRI researchers identified four antibodies to target HIV weaknesses. Also in November, the European Commission launched a €23M joint HIV vaccine research initiative with experts from 22 institutions both public and private. Prior to those developments, in October, the University of Maryland entered human trials with its HIV vaccine candidate, seeking to test that vaccine's potential to create a response against multiple HIV strains.

Also working on broad HIV vaccines are Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and TSRI through a partnership, while Duke University and Scripps Florida have each recently received funding for their own research in the HIV vaccines field.

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