1. Main
  2. Learn
  3. Industry
  4. Science, Technologies

Breakthrough in hunt for HIV vaccine

©Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier ©Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier
US scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of HIV have made an important breakthrough after capturing the clearest image yet of a protein which allows the deadly virus to attack human immune cells, new research showed Tuesday, AFP reports. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Weill Cornell Medical College have managed to obtain a detailed view of the atomic structure of the protein which envelops HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The development could potentially pave the way for a vaccine, according to the findings published in the US journal Science. "In order to develop a vaccine, you have to understand what bits on that very important trimeric protein can be recognizes by broadly neutralizing antibodies," said Scripps Institute cell biologist Bridget Carragher. "And in order to understand that, you need to understand what the structure of the thing looks like. "Then once you do, you can start designing a vaccine that will mimic that thing and elicit an antibody response and get the human being to fight the real virus when it comes along." Although sophisticated antiviral drugs have been used to manage HIV infections in many developed countries, a vaccine against infection has proved elusive. The failure to find a vaccine is often attributed to the complex nature of HIV's envelope protein, known as Env. The delicate structure of Env has hampered efforts to obtain the protein in a form that allows for the atomic-resolution imaging necessary to fully understand it. "It tends to fall apart, for example, even when it's on the surface of the virus, so to study it we have to engineer it to be more stable," said TSRI biologist Andrew Ward. However the researchers were able to engineer a version of the Env trimer, or three-component structure, that has the stability required for atomic-resolution imaging. The scientists were then able to study the Env trimer using cutting-edge imaging and electron microscopy. The use of X-ray crystallography allowed researchers to examine the Env trimer in more detail than previous attempts. The data also shed light on the process by which Env assembles and later shifts shape during infection, and also allowed researchers to make comparisons with protein envelopes from other deadly viruses such as flu and Ebola.

Nobel prizewinner proposes a new city in KZ
New abnormal snowfalls expected in Kazakhstan
Huge glacier retreat triggered in 1940s
Hyperloop construction begins in Las Vegas
"Moonlight" to top Spirit Awards nominations
Oil prices fall due to investors uncertainty
New dwarf galaxy discovered around Milky Way
Kanat Islam becomes a top ten WBO boxer
World oil prices continue to rise
Kazakhstan expects warming - Kazhydromet
Merkel to seek fourth term as chancellor
Sale of Tintin drawings set to break records
US, EU stocks fall as markets focus on dollar
Pacific leaders urged to defend free trade
EU warns eight nations on budget deficit
Universiade-2017: Athletic Village is ready
Bob Dylan can't make Nobel ceremony
Messi will never leave Barca - club president
Google, Facebook take aim at 'fake' news
Aerosmith announces Europe 'farewell' tour
Putin, Trump to normalise US-Russia ties
At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey blast
6.2 quake hits western Japan
OPEC agrees shock oil output cut
Israeli ex-president and Nobel laureate Peres dies
Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
32,000 arrested in Turkey coup probe
Youth to the fore as Milan fashion week opens
Xenophobia threatening peace in eastern Germany
Four-in-10 Japanese are virgins: poll
Sweden re-militarises Baltic island of Gotland
China to launch second space laboratory: Xinhua
More than a billion stars mapped in Milky Way: ESA
Boxing: Golovkin eyes Saunders after stopping Brook
Kazakhstan shifts PM to security chief
Oil prices gain despite rising OPEC supply forecast
US to give Philippines military planes
Singapore wages war on Zika-bearing mosquitoes
Italy quake death toll nears 250
Viral photos add fuel to French burkini debate
18 dead as Italy struck by powerful quake
Japan's first lady visits Pearl Harbor
Pokemon's a no-go on Bangkok's roads
July was Earth's hottest month in modern times
Pakistan rock climbers scale new heights