Scientists discover powerful new anti-HIV agent that could be used for vaccine

Published: February 19, 2015

Original Article:

In a remarkable new advance against the virus that causes AIDS, scientists from America’s The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the creation of a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might be used as a new kind of vaccine.

The research shows that the new engineered protein blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans or rhesus monkeys, including the hardest-to-stop variants.

It also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.

“Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far,” said Michael Farzan, a professor on TSRI’s Florida campus who led the effort. “Unlike antibodies, which fail to neutralize a large fraction of HIV-1 strains, our protein has been effective against all strains tested, raising the possibility it could offer an effective HIV vaccine alternative.”

When HIV infects a cell, it targets the CD4 lymphocyte, an integral part of the body’s immune system. HIV fuses with the cell and inserts its own genetic material and transforms the host cell into a HIV manufacturing site.

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