Note: This is a big step towards a vaccine for HIV!
A small number of people infected with HIV produce antibodies with an amazing effect: Not only are the antibodies directed against the own virus strain, but also against different sub-types of HIV that circulate worldwide. Researchers from the University of Zurich and University Hospital Zurich now reveal which factors are responsible for the human body forming such broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies, thereby opening new avenues for the development of an HIV vaccine.
We know from HIV research that around one percent of people infected with HIV form antibodies that combat different virus strains. These broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies (bnAbs) bind to structures on the surface of the virus which barely change and are identical in different viral strains. Dubbed “spikes”, these sugar and protein complexes are the only surface structures that stem from the HIV virus itself and can be attacked by the immune system via antibodies. Due to their broad impact, these antibodies constitute a promising cornerstone for the development of an effective vaccine against HIV.