Sumary of Engineered immune cells elicit broad response to HIV in mice, offering hope for vaccine:
- The virus — which continues to infect millions around the world — has proven especially tricky to prevent with conventional antibodies, in part because it evolves so rapidly in the body..
- Any solution would require coaxing the body into producing a special type of antibody that can act broadly to defeat multiple strains of the virus at once..
- This week, scientists at Scripps Research moved closer to attaining that holy grail of HIV research with a new vaccine approach that would rely on genetically engineered immune cells from the patient’s body..
- In experiments involving mice, the approach successfully induced broadly neutralizing antibodies — also called bnabs — that can prevent HIV infection, says principal investigator James Voss, PhD, of Scripps Research..
- Voss and his team showed in 2019 that it was possible to reprogram the antibody genes of the immune system’s B cells using CRISPR so the cells would produce the same broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies that have been found in rare HIV patients..
- The new study shows that such engineered B cells, after being reintroduced to the body, can multiply in response to a vaccination — and mature into memory cells and plasma cells that produce high levels of protective antibodies for long periods of time in the body..
- The team also demonstrated that the engineered genes can be improved to make antibodies that are even more effective against the virus, using a process that normally occurs in B cells that are responding to immunization..
- He hopes that his vaccine approach may someday prevent new HIV infections and possibly offer a functional cure to those who already have HIV/AIDS…