Till now, scientists have not been able to find a vaccine to fight the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). This is because the normal immunization process used against other diseases does not work against HIV.
Generally vaccination involves injecting a dead or inactive version of the disease causing microbe in to our bodies, which triggers (or primes) production of antibodies and trains our bodies to fight future active microbes. But antibodies are not produced when dead or inactive HIV virus is used because, HIV has the ability to both evade detection from the immune system and mutate rapidly into new strains which cannot be defeated by our antibodies.
Scientist understood that to fight HIV, our bodies need to fight different types of antibodies to fight against different strains of HIV. These antibodies are to be produced by using a series of related, but slightly different proteins (immunogens) to train the body. This a different from the traditional “booster” shot, where a person is exposed to the same immunogen multiple times.
Now, Scientists from different research institutions led by the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), have discovered that immunisation of a mouse’s body with a protein nanoparticle immunogen called eOD-GT8 60mer produces antibody “precursors” with some of the traits necessary to recognize and block HIV infection.
This is one of the first steps towards mankind’s victory over HIV. The nanoparticle eOD-GT8 60mer could be one of the several immunogens that train our body to fight HIV. Research will continue to discover other immunogens which will eventually be used in a united HIV vaccine.