Health Team

Duke researchers make strides in finding HIV vaccine

Posted July 29, 2016 2:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2016 6:27 p.m. EDT

— A research team led by Duke University scientists on Friday announced that it found clues in immune systems that could help develop an effective HIV vaccine.

The team at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute studied 100 people infected with HIV to find why some people with the virus are able to make desired antibodies to fight it, while a vaccine can't do the same. The findings were published Friday in the journal Science Immunology.

The immune systems of half the people involved in the study were able to produce antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus, while the other half's immune system's could not.

In an earlier study, Dr. Barton Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, studied people who had both HIV and a form of lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease. The immune systems of people with both diseases were able to effectively combat HIV.

Researchers found similarities in the immune systems of people with both HIV and lupus and the people whose bodies produce the necessary antibodies on their own. The findings could lead researchers toward an effective vaccine to treat HIV.

“The important point here is that the first step to finding a way around a roadblock, is to be able to understand the biology behind the problem,” Haynes said in a news release. “We now know what we need to do. The next step is to figure out how to safely mimic what happens in infection when the right antibodies are induced.”