July 25, 2014
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Powerful HIV Antibodies May Require Assist from Second Antibody to Develop


Powerful HIV Antibodies May Require Assist from Second Antibody to Develop

NIAID-Supported Scientists Find Cooperation Between Antibodies


John R. Mascola, M.D.

John R. Mascola, M.D., right, led a team at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center that participated in this study.
Credit: NIAID
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One strategy for developing a highly effective HIV vaccine is to learn how some HIV-infected people naturally develop antibodies that can stop a high percentage of global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory. These so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) develop too late to help infected people overcome the virus, but if a vaccine could stimulate uninfected people’s immune systems to make bNAbs, they might protect those people from HIV infection.

Researchers have been studying serial blood samples donated by an HIV-infected South African individual between 15 weeks and 4 years after becoming infected to learn how this person’s immune system developed a powerful bNAb. The scientists previously observed how the bNAb mutated from its earliest, immature form into its final, most powerful HIV-fighting form through interactions with the virus over many months. In new research, the scientists discovered that early in the course of infection, a second, more ordinary HIV antibody influenced the virus to develop a mutation that helped the bNAb develop its broadly neutralizing capability. Thus the process of antibody-HIV co-evolution can involve more than one antibody, a finding that may have implications for HIV vaccine design.

The new study was led by Barton F. Haynes, M.D., director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine and a grantee of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Collaborating scientists from the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) were led by John R. Mascola, M.D., VRC director.

F Gao et al. Cooperation of B-cell lineages in induction of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies. Cell DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.022 (2014).

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director, and John R. Mascola, M.D., director of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, are available for comment.

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