Virology News
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Virology News
Topical news snippets about viruses that affect people.  And other things. Like zombies B-)
Curated by Ed Rybicki
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Using old drugs to treat new viruses

Using old drugs to treat new viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it
A group of drugs already in everyday use to treat psychosis or depression may also be used to defeat deadly and emerging viruses, according to new research led by the University of Leeds.
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In Memoriam - Hilary Koprowski

In Memoriam - Hilary Koprowski | Virology News | Scoop.it
Hilary Koprowski: A Renaissance scientist

Hilary Koprowski died on the 11th of April 2013 at the age of 96 from respiratory complications...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I met him a few times - he endeared himself to me as he was one of the only people who knew how to pronounce my name without me telling him - and he was a MOST impressive man.  Productive to the end, and right into new technologies such as plant production as well.  We will miss him.

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Billions of dollars later and still no Aids vaccine - Times LIVE

Billions of dollars later and still no Aids vaccine - Times LIVE | Virology News | Scoop.it
Latest news from South Africa, World, Politics, Entertainment and Lifestyle. The home of The Times and Sunday Times newspaper. (The hunt for an HIV vaccine has gobbled up $8-billion in the past decade with no real results.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Beause of rampant band-wagon jumping and some ignoring of basic lessons from other lentiviruses...the Ad5 bandwagon was especially noticeable; it will be interesting to see what the new wagon will be, now that this has come to a grinding halt.  Poxviruses, anyone?

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India announces development of $1 rotavirus vaccine

India announces development of $1 rotavirus vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it

The Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Bharat Biotech have announced the development of a rotavirus vaccine that will be sold at $1 per dose, once approved. Results from a Phase III clinical trial showed that the ROTAVAC® vaccine decreased the incidence of severe rotavirus diarrhoea by 56% during the first year of life, and the protection conferred by the vaccine also continued into the second year of life. The clinical trial enrolled 6,799 infants across three sites in India.


The vaccine’s development resulted from a unique partnership between Indian and international researchers, with partners including DBT, Bharat Biotech, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Stanford University School of Medicine, and PATH.


Rotavirus graphic courtesy of Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

We need to do this here...!

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Expression in tobacco and purification of beak and feather disease virus capsid protein fused to elastin-like polypeptides

Expression in tobacco and purification of beak and feather disease virus capsid protein fused to elastin-like polypeptides | Virology News | Scoop.it

Psittacine beak and feather disease, caused by beak and feather disease virus (BFDV), is a threat to endangered psittacine species. There is currently no vaccine against BFDV, which necessitates the development of safe and affordable vaccine candidates. A subunit vaccine based on BFDV capsid protein (CP), the major antigenic determinant, expressed in the inexpensive and highly scalable plant expression system could satisfy these requirements. Full-length CP and a truncated CP (ΔN40 CP) were transiently expressed in tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) as fusions to elastin-like polypeptide (ELP). These two proteins were fused to ELPs of different lengths in order to increase expression levels and to provide a simple means of purification. The ELP fusion proteins were purified by inverse transition cycling (ITC) and it was found that a membrane filtration-based ITC method improved the recovery of ΔN40 CP-ELP51 fusion protein relative to a centrifugation-based method.

  
Ed Rybicki's insight:

From *ahem* a little known virology lab somewhere in the far, far South...B-)

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Antigenic Drift of the Pandemic 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Virus in a Ferret Model

Antigenic Drift of the Pandemic 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Virus in a Ferret Model | Virology News | Scoop.it

Infection with influenza virus leads to significant morbidity and mortality. Annual vaccination may prevent subsequent disease by inducing neutralizing antibodies to currently circulating strains in the human population. To escape this antibody response, influenza A viruses undergo continuous genetic variation as they replicate, enabling viruses with advantageous antigenic mutations to spread and cause disease in naïve or previously immune or vaccinated individuals. To date, the 2009 pandemic virus (A(H1N1)pdm09) has not undergone significant antigenic drift, with the result that the vaccine remains well-matched and should provide good protection to A(H1N1)pdm09 circulating viruses. In this study, we induced antigenic drift in an A(H1N1)pdm09 virus in the ferret model. A single amino acid mutation emerged in the dominant surface glycoprotein, hemagglutinin, which had a multifaceted effect, altering both antigenicity and virus receptor specificity. The mutant virus could not be isolated using routine cell culture methods without the virus acquiring additional amino acid changes, yet was fit in vivo. The implications for surveillance of circulating influenza virus are significant as current assays commonly used to assess vaccine mismatch, as well as to produce isolates for vaccine manufacture, are biased against identification of viruses containing only this mutation.

 

Influenza virus graphic by Russell Kightley Media 

Ed Rybicki's insight:

There is a rather disturbing result in this paper: that is, that the mutation in the H1N1 HA that emerged in serial ferret transfers that was responsible for antigenic drift, resulted in a virus that could NOT be cultured by routine methods despite being quite happy in ferrets.  In fact, adapting the virus to culture meant it accumulated MORE mutations, meaning the thing they got out by "current assays" was NOT the same thing that was causing disease.

 

This is worrying for a number of reasons, not least of which is that informed decisions on probable vaccine efficacy are made as a result of such assays - and the vaccines themselves, in some cases.  And if what these decisions are based on is incorrect...?

 

Time for some better science here, people - like next-gen sequencing rather than isolation as a measure of what is causing disease!

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Rising measles outbreaks threaten vaccine-averse

Rising measles outbreaks threaten vaccine-averse | Virology News | Scoop.it

Seven confirmed cases of measles in Toronto, Ontario, so far this year, for a total of 12 in Canada to date, are prompting public health officials to remind doctors that the once-common childhood illness risks establishing a foothold again.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

And why?  Because risk-averse parents aren't vaccinating their children against the things THEY were vaccinated against, which means we're back in the 1950s again as far as morbidity / mortality figures are concerned.

 

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Polio vaccine is safe, Sultan reassures - Premium Times Nigeria

Polio vaccine is safe, Sultan reassures - Premium Times Nigeria | Virology News | Scoop.it
The Sultan made the statement in Sokoto on Sunday. ({Premium Times} Polio vaccine is safe, Sultan reassures http://t.co/4BDaQ6jS1Z)
Ed Rybicki's insight:

He shouldn't HAVE to!!  This kind of pernicious nonsense really, really needs to stop - but the CIA didn't help any.

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HPV Vaccine in Australia Already Appears to Be Working

HPV Vaccine in Australia Already Appears to Be Working | Virology News | Scoop.it
Some good vaccine news for a change: A vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) appears to be working. HPV causes genital warts, and can lead to cervical cancer in women.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

As we knew it would...B-)

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A pox on both your parents

A pox on both your parents | Virology News | Scoop.it
Kids' lives are at risk as science is ignored on immunisation.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Why oh why does anti-vaccination propaganda have such an effect??  Undoing decades of progress because of bullshit.  Aaaaarrrrgh!!

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GlaxoSmithKline’s quadrivalent influenza vaccine approved in UK and Germany

GlaxoSmithKline’s quadrivalent influenza vaccine approved in UK and Germany | Virology News | Scoop.it

GlaxoSmithKline’s quadrivalent influenza vaccine has been granted marketing authorisation in Germany and the UK. The four-strain vaccine is the first  to be approved in a European country for active immunisation of adults and children from three years of age for the prevention of influenza disease caused by the two influenza A and two influenza B virus subtypes contained within the vaccine.

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Autism risk isn’t increased by the use of recommended childhood vaccines

Autism risk isn’t increased by the use of recommended childhood vaccines | Virology News | Scoop.it
Autism risk isn’t increased by the use of recommended childhood vaccines, U.S. health officials found in a study addressing parent concerns that too many immunizations may cause the disorder.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

A-frakkin'-men....

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Sara Tilleman's curator insight, June 5, 2013 10:04 AM

Is it a myth that autism is caued by childhood vaccines?

Lejla Subasic's curator insight, November 2, 2014 11:26 PM

This blog post interested me because the author talked about actual data and research conducted by the Journal of Pediatrics which stated that over one-thousand toddlers did not portray any different growth factors when being injected with recommended vaccines (George R, 2013). There have been many controversies about the MMR vaccine and the affects it could leave your child that I needed to read more of a data standpoint of an argument. One man simply stating that he developed ASD should not affect our decision on whether or not kids get vaccinated. I believe there should be research involved and also have parents at home researching about the vaccine to be informed themselves. I feel the need to say that some people are ignorant when it comes down to the safety of their children. I know it is in the best interest of the child for the parent to be shaken up by this vaccine leading to ASD, however, if we put into perspective of if they do not get vaccinated what are the chances they then develop other health concerns? This is why we all need to do our research and be informed about the situation before converting to a solid conclusion. The Confirmation Bias can be used to apply this issue to a real life situation by allowing the public to realize that giving their children vaccines will not harm them in any way. Quite the opposite to the vaccines causing harm, not giving your children the vaccines they need can actually cause them harm to their own health (George R, 2013). This blog post does not account for the influence of gender and sexual orientation because it is not attacking a specific group of individuals. This blog is towards parents and family members who assumed that the vaccine would cause them or their children harm. The blog is to make individuals aware of the situation and the misinformation they were given so that they are informed and are able to be given the vaccine. The conclusion of the blog is reasonable to the whole story because it is supported by the facts and the data conducted. The Autism Spectrum Disorder is stated to cause lack of emotional growth and social stability (Myers, 2014). Comparing this to the outcome of what could happen to kids if they took the shots amazes me. Parents are beyond terrified to put their children's health at danger that they are ruining their children's actual health by not giving them the full vaccines they need to mature and grow properly. 

 

                                            References:

George R. (2013, March). Autism risk isn’t increased by the use of     recommended childhood vaccines | LinkedIn. Retrieved from                    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Autism-risk-isn-t-increased-1351197.S.227541078?view=&gid=1351197&type=member&item=227541078&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_nd-pst_ttle-cn

 

Myers, D. G. (2014). Exploring psychology in modules: With updates   on dsm-5. S.l.: Worth Pub.

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Hepatitis A virus discovered to cloak itself in membranes hijacked from infected cells

Hepatitis A virus discovered to cloak itself in membranes hijacked from infected cells | Virology News | Scoop.it
Viruses have historically been classified into one of two types – those with an outer lipid-containing envelope and those without an envelope.

Via Kenzibit
Ed Rybicki's insight:

...and hep A steals membranes from liver cells to circulate as an enveloped particle(s) in blood. This is a fascinating find, and doubtless will be followed by similar for other viruses.

 

The commentary has some speculation as to how vaccines work, if antibodies can't see the virus - but they forget the virus has to get INTO the host in the first place, and environmental forms are non-enveloped, AND that the vaccine may well elicit some degree of cell-mediated immunity, which would target infected cells displaying degraded protein on their surfaces via MHC I-type receptors.

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Gaby's curator insight, October 20, 2014 7:20 PM

Una noticia que revolucionará a los virologos!

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Novavax exploring options with Zika virus vaccine program

Novavax exploring options with Zika virus vaccine program | Virology News | Scoop.it
Novavax Inc. previously responded to concerns about Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome by making new vaccine candidates. But it has remained mum on Zika virus, until now.
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Synthetic Generation of Influenza Vaccine Viruses for Rapid Response to Pandemics

During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, vaccines for the virus became available in large quantities only after human infections peaked. To accelerate vaccine availability for future pandemics, we developed a synthetic approach that very rapidly generated vaccine viruses from sequence data. Beginning with hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) gene sequences, we combined an enzymatic, cell-free gene assembly technique with enzymatic error correction to allow rapid, accurate gene synthesis. We then used these synthetic HA and NA genes to transfect Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells that were qualified for vaccine manufacture with viral RNA expression constructs encoding HA and NA and plasmid DNAs encoding viral backbone genes. Viruses for use in vaccines were rescued from these MDCK cells. We performed this rescue with improved vaccine virus backbones, increasing the yield of the essential vaccine antigen, HA. Generation of synthetic vaccine seeds, together with more efficient vaccine release assays, would accelerate responses to influenza pandemics through a system of instantaneous electronic data exchange followed by real-time, geographically dispersed vaccine production.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

So let's be clear: they made the vaccine SEED in 4 days, NOT the vaccine!  One would still then have to scale up production in mammalian cells - which is not trivial.

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Production of protective bluetongue virus-like particle vaccine in plants

Production of protective bluetongue virus-like particle vaccine in plants | Virology News | Scoop.it

Plant expression systems based on nonreplicating virus-based vectors can be used for the simultaneous expression of multiple genes within the same cell. They therefore have great potential for the production of heteromultimeric protein complexes. This work describes the efficient plant-based production and assembly of Bluetongue virus-like particles (VLPs), requiring the simultaneous expression of four distinct proteins in varying amounts. Such particles have the potential to serve as a safe and effective vaccine against Bluetongue virus (BTV), which causes high mortality rates in ruminants and thus has a severe effect on the livestock trade. Here, VLPs produced and assembled in Nicotiana benthamiana using the cowpea mosaic virus-based HyperTrans (CPMV-HT) and associated pEAQ plant transient expression vector system were shown to elicit a strong antibody response in sheep. Furthermore, they provided protective immunity against a challenge with a South African BTV-8 field isolate.

 

The results show that transient expression can be used to produce immunologically relevant complex heteromultimeric structures in plants in a matter of days. The results have implications beyond the realm of veterinary vaccines and could be applied to the production of VLPs for human use or the coexpression of multiple enzymes for the manipulation of metabolic pathways.

 Generic reovirus-like particle by Russell Kightley Media
Ed Rybicki's insight:

While this has not been subject to the same hype as the FMDV VLPs featured here and all over the media recently, it is at least as big a deal - and yes, we are involved, and yes, we are highly stoked with what we did.

 

Because this is a four-protein virus-like particle, expressed via transient expression in N benthamiana, and assembled in yields high enough to allow purification of particles that were protective in a live virus challenge experiment in sheep.

 

Yes, protective in actual sheep, and competitive with the standard attentuated live virus vaccine - which is a seriously big deal!

 

Plus the electron micrographs of the particles are SO cool.  Congratulations, Eva and team, you have done really, really well.

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Frank Sainsbury's comment, May 17, 2013 3:45 AM
Hear, hear!!
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Development of human papillomavirus chimaeric L1/L2 candidate vaccines

Development of human papillomavirus chimaeric L1/L2 candidate vaccines | Virology News | Scoop.it

Recombinant human papillomavirus (HPV) virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines based on the L1 capsid protein have been shown to be efficient prophylactic vaccines, albeit type-specific. As a first step to investigate the feasibility of extending protection against non-vaccine types, HPV-16 L1 chimaeras were generated. The region downstream of L1 amino acid (aa) 413 was replaced with selected cross-neutralising epitopes (aa 108-120; 56-81 and 17-36) derived from the HPV-16 L2 protein, generating proteins designated SAF, L2.56 and L2.17, respectively. The chimaera L1BPV containing BPV-1 L2 peptide aa 1-88 was similarly constructed. The chimaeras were evaluated for expression in insect cells; their ability to form particles was studied by electron microscopy, and their immunogenicity was evaluated in mice. SAF, L2.56 and L2.17 proteins were expressed to high concentrations in insect cells and elicited HPV-16 pseudovirus-neutralising anti-L1 antibodies. L2.56 and L2.17 also elicited anti-L2 antibodies. L1BPV was a poor vaccine candidate due to low levels of expression with concomitant lack of immunogenicity. All chimaeras assembled into tertiary structures. The results indicate that chimaeric L1 vaccines incorporating cross-neutralising L2 peptides could be promising second-generation prophylactic HPV vaccine candidates.

 Cervical cancer graphic courtesy Russell Kightley Media
Ed Rybicki's insight:

We keep grinding on...someday, someone will be interested!

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Medicago successfully produces VLP vaccine candidate for H7N9 virus

Medicago successfully produces VLP vaccine candidate for H7N9 virus | Virology News | Scoop.it

Medicago Inc. (TSX: MDG; OTCQX: MDCGF), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing highly effective and competitive vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), today announced that it has successfully produced a new VLP vaccine candidate  for the H7N9 virus that is responsible for the current influenza outbreak in China.


Influenza in birds graphic from Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

I keep saying, you gotta go green...and Medicago do, and have for H7N9.

 

Quicker than anyone else, evidently.  Truly impressive for plant production technology!

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Is this the reason why RV144 HIV ‘Thai trial’ didn’t protect more participants?

Is this the reason why RV144 HIV ‘Thai trial’ didn’t protect more participants? | Virology News | Scoop.it

The RV144 ‘Thai trial’ of an HIV vaccine candidate resulted in an unprecedented 31% protection rate among participants – a

result that sparked something of a revival in the HIV vaccine field. Despite this encouraging result, the protection rate was still considered to be too low for the vaccine to be useful. Since then, many HIV vaccines have come and gone – with the NIAID’s HVTN 505 trial being the latest casualty in the drive to stem the HIV pandemic. However, researchers at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute have published researched inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (May 6th 2013) which pinpoints a previously unknown interaction between IgA and IgG antibodies as the cause of a lack of response to the RV144 vaccine.

 

Killer T-cell graphic by Russell Kightely Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

VERY interesting, if true: IgA - supposedly the Ab of choice for mucosal surface protection - interfering with IgG, and stopping killer T / NK cells from binding and killing infected cells?

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A novel platform for virus-like particle-display of flaviviral envelope domain III: induction of Dengue and West Nile virus neutralizing antibodies

A novel platform for virus-like particle-display of flaviviral envelope domain III: induction of Dengue and West Nile virus neutralizing antibodies | Virology News | Scoop.it

CD16-RIgE is a chimeric human membrane glycoprotein consisting of the CD16 ectodomain fused to the transmembrane domain and cytoplasmic tail of the gamma chain of the high affinity receptor of IgE (RIgE). Coexpression of CD16-RIgE and HIV-1 Pr55Gag polyprotein precursor (Pr55GagHIV) in insect cells resulted in the incorporation of CD16-RIgE glycoprotein into the envelope of extracellular virus-like particles (VLPs), a phenomenon known as pseudotyping. Taking advantage of this property, we replaced the CD16 ectodomain of CD16-RIgE by the envelope glycoprotein domain III (DIII) of dengue virus serotype 1 (DENV1) or West Nile virus Kunjin (WNVKun). The two resulting chimeric proteins, DIII-DENV1-RIgE and DIII-WNVKun-RIgE, were addressed to the plasma membrane, exposed at the surface of human and insect cells, and incorporated into extracellular VLPs when coexpressed with Pr55GagHIV in insect cells. The DIII domains were accessible at the surface of retroviral VLPs, as shown by their reactivity with specific antibodies, and notably antibodies from patient sera. The DIII-RIgE proteins were found to be incorporated in VLPs made of SIV, MLV, or chimeric MLV-HIV Gag precursors, indicating that DIII-RIgE could pseudotype a wide variety of retroviral VLPs. VLP-displayed DIII were capable of inducing specific neutralizing antibodies against DENV and WNV in mice.


Although the neutralization response was modest, our data confirmed the capability of DIII to induce a flavivirus neutralization response, and suggested that our VLP-displayed CD16-RIgE-based platform could be developed as a vaccine vector against different flaviviruses and other viral pathogens.


HIV matrix illustration by Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Love it: using retrovirus Gag polyproteins that bud out of insect cells to carry a chimaeric protein that elicits neutralising antibodies against dengue and West Nile viruses.  Love it because my lab has huge experience in making such particles, and we have tried to tout them as vehicles for display of other antigens...but haven't actually done it!

 

Modest titres, it must be noted: while I think this is a great paper, I am NOT convinced that retrovirus-derived VLPs will be of any use in such an application, because yields of particles via insect cells are simply too low.  Sad, but true.  HOWEVER: making a DNA vaccine out of it, on the other hand...would allow particles to be made in cells that receive the DNA, which would significantly increase their immunogenicity as it would expose cells that have NOT received DNA, to the immunogens.

 

Just a thought.

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Ineffective – HIV Vaccine Trial Discontinued

Ineffective – HIV Vaccine Trial Discontinued | Virology News | Scoop.it

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has announced that it will halt its HVTN 505 HIV vaccine

trial due to a perceived lack of efficacy. A scheduled review by an independent data and safety monitoring board found that the vaccine regimen neither prevented HIV infection nor reduced viral load in vaccine recipients who became infected with HIV.

The announcement will come as a blow to those hoping the HVTN 505 would be an effective intervention to stem the HIV pandemic.

 

HIV particle graphic by Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

And another one bites the dust...not only not effective, but suspected of increasing infection rates.  VERY sad!

 

I am beginning to think that adenoviruses are simply useless when it comes to vectoring HIV genes for vaccine purposes.

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Quest for edible malarial vaccine leads to other potential medical uses for algae

Quest for edible malarial vaccine leads to other potential medical uses for algae | Virology News | Scoop.it
Can scientists rid malaria from the Third World by simply feeding algae genetically engineered with a vaccine?
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Answer is: no, as it happens, but algae could be useful for pathogens infecting via the mucosal surfaces.  I still think Chlamydomonas is a nasty bit of pond scum with low yields of recombinant protein, but who am I to argue with predicted if not actual success??  B-)

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An open letter to my dad on the occasion of his recent anti-vax Facebook postings

An open letter to my dad on the occasion of his recent anti-vax Facebook postings | Virology News | Scoop.it
Dear Pa, I know you care deeply about many issues, especially social justice.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Thanks Chris Upton for originally posting this!  Great post; very thoughtful.  JUST the thing to give to denialist family members....

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Infographic: Measles cases in England and Wales

Infographic: Measles cases in England and Wales | Virology News | Scoop.it
In light of the recent outbreak of measles in Wales, I have put together an infographic on measles cases in ...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

It's shameful that there should be ANY!

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Roadmap to an HIV Vaccine [maybe]

Roadmap to an HIV Vaccine [maybe] | Virology News | Scoop.it
Researchers track the evolution of HIV in a single patient to understand what drives the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

So they say they have a strategy to mimic natural infection, where an arms race between generation of antibody binding site diveristy and Env epitopes results in increasingly good neutralising antibodies to Env - and that this could lead to a vaccine.

 

Um.  Yeeeessss...for a single patient, given that this is what they followed??  And now that they will follow other single patients, might they not show that each person's responses evolve completely differently?

 

So this is good science - in fact, it is GREAT science.  However - right now that is all it is; like so much of HIV research, answering hypothesis-generated questions leads to more more hypotheses, and more good science, and more publications....BUT NO VACCINES.  In fact, the ONLY vaccines which have made it into Phase III clinical trial are nothing like what people seem to think will work, and only got there because the people who pushed for the trials pretty much ignored the basic scientists.

 

A potential flaw in the whole approach is looking at what NATURAL infections do.  That this may not be relevant is shown by the case of one of the most successful of recent vaccines, which is Human papillomavirus (HPV) VLPs.  The virus infects epithelial cells in a topical manner, is cleared by cell-mediated immune responses and elicits only weak antibody responses which are protective, whereas the vaccine is given via injection, and elicits very high neutralising antibody responses which are protective - but are of no use against established infections.

 

But the trains roll on, and new approaches keep getting unearthed, and maybe we will yet get efficacious HIV vaccines.

 

Maybe.

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