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New Study May Aid Search for AIDS Vaccine

Research Could Lead to New Strategies for the Development of an Effective HIV Vaccine
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Antibodies Came From 4 Patients

The 17 new broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) identified by the research consortium were isolated from just four HIV-positive people.

“These people carried highly potent antibodies in their serum that were able to neutralize a large number of viruses,” study co-author Katie J. Doores, PhD, of the Scripps Research Institute tells WebMD.

The hope is that vaccine developers can use the new bNAbs to develop proteins that elicit the same broad response in the body to prevent infection with the HIV virus.

“We have accomplished major milestones, but obviously the last milestone is the hardest,” Koff says. “I would not want people to think that a vaccine is around the corner, but they ought to take away that it is feasible now and we have a rational path for moving forward.”

Vaccine Would Have Global Impact

Koff says even a partially effective HIV vaccine could have a major worldwide impact.

Each day, more than 7,000 people around the world are infected with the virus that causes AIDS. The IAVI estimates that a partially effective vaccine that works in just half of the people who get it, given to just 30% of the population would prevent 5.6 million new infections between 2015 and 2030.

Joseph P. McGowan, MD, of the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., calls the new research exciting, but he adds that it remains to be seen if it will lead to an effective HIV vaccine.

McGowan is medical director of North Shore University Hospital’s Center for AIDS Research & Treatment.

“We’ve had a lot of setbacks, but there does appear to be something here,” he tells WebMD. “There are still major hurdles. I wouldn’t want people to get the idea that this will result in vaccine trials next week or next month.”

The Seattle-based biotech company Theraclone Sciences and San Francisco-based Monogram Biosciences Inc. contributed to the research

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