Observing SIV Vaccinations for Monkeys Brings Researchers One Step Closer to an HIV Vaccine

Since HIV was first discovered, researchers have been scrambling to find not only a cure, but also a vaccine. The goal is to stop the virus before it can infect healthy human cells. Ongoing experiments have yielded some benefits, and others have led to important discoveries. One such study holds promise. This particular study had a breakthrough with SIV (the simian form of the virus) that may be applied to humans.

Researchers used a vaccine developed for SIV to see if the monkeys that were vaccinated would fight off SIV when exposed. In doing so, they carefully followed the course of action taken by the immune system. This involved tracking certain amino acids and antibody activity. Repeated responses were clear enough to help predict new infections. Also, certain spikes in amino acids helped researchers determine what was crucial in order to trigger effective immune responses.

The monkeys that were vaccinated were then exposed to a mix of SIV strains. These strains were divided into two groups. The first group were targeted by the immune system and immediately neutralized. No infection occurred with these strains of the virus. However, with the next group, the virus was resistant to the antibodies. This, more often than not, resulted in infection. A closer look at the chemical changes that occurred led to some important information.

The breakthrough came when changes in amino acids were noticed and changed the SIV from a resistant form into one that could be neutralized. The opposite could also happen, depending on how the amino acids spiked. Upon testing this on HIV, the same actions resulted. This could mean that these amino acids hold the key to neutralizing HIV. Further investigation will determine if this could indeed be what’s needed in order to create an effective vaccine.