A technique to deliver HIV-fighting antibodies to mice has proven effective against a strain of HIV found in the real world.
The findings, available in the journal Nature Medicine, suggest that the delivery method might be effective in preventing vaginal transmission of HIV between humans.
“The method that we developed has now been validated in the most natural possible setting in a mouse,” says Nobel laureate David Baltimore, president emeritus and a biology professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). “This procedure is extremely effective against a naturally transmitted strain and by an intravaginal infection route, which is a model of how HIV is transmitted in most of the infections that occur in the world.”
VIP boosts antibodies
The new delivery method—called Vectored ImmunoProphylaxis, or VIP for short—is not exactly a vaccine. Vaccines introduce substances such as antigens into the body to try to get the immune system to mount an appropriate attack—to generate antibodies that can block an infection or T cells that can attack infected cells.
In the case of VIP, a harmless virus is injected and delivers genes to the muscle tissue, instructing it to generate specific antibodies.
The researchers emphasize that the work was done in mice and that the leap from mice to humans is large. The team is now working with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health to begin clinical evaluation.
Additional researchers from Caltech and UCLA contributed to the study, which received support from the UCLA Center for AIDS Research, the National Institutes of Health, and the Caltech-UCLA Joint Center for Translational Medicine.