Melbourne university researchers have identified antibodies in a breakthrough that brings closer the hope of developing an effective vaccine.
A study of 100 people with HIV, recruitedThe act of signing up participants into a study. Generally this process involves evaluating a participant with respect to the eligibility criteria of the study and going through the informed consent process. from The Alfred Hospital and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, has shown that antibodies were so successful in suppressing the virusA small infective organism which is incapable of reproducing outside a host cell. that it had to mutate around them.
The discovery has raised hope that the antibodies, if introduced to healthy people, could prevent the virus taking hold.
'We've been working on this problem for over 10 years,’ says Stephen Kent, of Melbourne University's Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
‘The vaccines we've tried in the past have induced some immune responses but have not been very effective.’
He thinks they now know why. They were inducing the wrong immune responses.
Professor Kent and his team studied blood samples of HIV positive people and analysed how the antibodies called antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity targeted the virus.
They were surprised to see the virus mutating around these antibodies. ‘As a result,’ he says, ‘the antibody isn't entirely successful in getting rid of the virus in people with HIV.
‘But if you were to have those antibodies before you caught the virus and it started replicating – giving the immune system a head start – we think it would prevent the virus taking hold at all.’