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October 5, 2009

Scientists Rebuild HIV Camouflage Mechanism in Vaccine Breakthrough

British scientists have re-created HIV’s so-called “camouflage jacket,” which enables the virus to shape-shift and avoid detection by the human immune system, Times Online reports. This research, led by Ben Davis, PhD, at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, could turn one of the virus’s greatest strengths against itself and help create an effective HIV vaccine.

According to the article, scientists hope they can teach the immune system to recognize and neutralize the virus in the body. Researchers would accomplish this by creating synthetic versions of the HIV camouflage jacket and injecting them in patients. Vaccines based on this approach are being tested in animal studies; human trials might begin in two years.

This research is the latest in a series of recent HIV vaccine breakthroughs. Last month in Thailand, a large-scale study of a two-part vaccine called RV 144 reduced the risk of HIV transmission by almost a third. Another study last month identified two new antibodies that neutralize many strains of the virus. 

Search: camouflage jacket, detection, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, vaccine, Thailand, RV 144


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