HIV infection begins in the outer most layer of parts of the body. That is why researchers from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are a new type of HIV vaccine strategy patented that targets these particular areas.

Like many vaccines, the hope is that this one would only have to be administered once in a person’s lifetime. Then the body would continue to reproduce the antibodies on a continual basis. The trick is to ensure that these cells, which are made to fight the disease, will not eventually be fought off themselves by the body’s immune system. If the research team is successful then the vaccine may have other applications in disease fighting besides just HIV.

The epithelium is the name for the surface layer of cells in the rectum and vagina where HIV is passed into the body during sexual intercourse. This is how a great majority of those infected with the disease first receive it. That is why the vaccine will target this mucosal layer of cells.

Philippe Blancou, Ph.D. and Marie-Claire Gauduin, Ph.D., the co-creators of this vaccine, are hopeful that by attacking the spread at this location, the disease can be halted before it gets a foothold in the body. They recognize that the vaccine must have a permanent effect to be truly efficient.

There is very little time when the HIV enters through the mucosal cells and when it starts rapidly multiplying in the organs and lymphatic system. That is why the genetically modified approach has been tagged with the appropriate structure to stay in the epithelial areas to fight the disease and avoid immune system detection.