Weakness Detected in AIDS Virus Provides New Hope for Vaccine

Scientists have detected a “long sought site of vulnerability” in the AIDS virus which might be targeted with a vaccine aimed at thwarting initial infection, U.S. National Institutes of Health researcher Peter Kwong said Wednesday:

Aidsvirushandshake“Having that site and knowing that you can make antibodies against it means that a vaccine is possible. It doesn’t say we’ve gotten there. But it’s taken it off the list from an impossible dream and converted it to something that is a (mere) technical barrier.”

Using “atomic level images” of the virus, scientists observed it “in a biological handshake with the immune cells it attacks” and noticed a place on the HIV virus which might be vulnerable:

“They revealed the structure of a protein on the surface of HIV as it looks while the protein is bound to an infection-fighting antibody. They said this protein, called gp120, seems susceptible to attack by this antibody, which is called b12 and is capable of broadly neutralizing the virus.”

Dr. Gary Nabel, an NIH vaccine expert and a co-author of the research, called the new findings “certainly one of the best leads to come along in recent years”.

NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed, but cautioned that a vaccine may still be years away: “I don’t think there’s any one particular thing that, in and of itself, is the show-stopper. But I don’t think we could really make substantial, fundamentally scientifically based progress until we got this very important information.”

AIDS Virus Weakness Detected [reuters]


  1. Tom says

    We should all be applauding each small step. Eventually, those small steps will finally lead to an answer. It may still take years, but I am certainly ready to join in the celebration whenever we manage to get there.

  2. jimmyboyo says

    Zabadak, I thought of doing just that. Still contemplating it.

    I remember reading once that many nuns, friars, and priests stepped up for expirments with the polio vaccine before it was perfected. the catholic church (hypocrites) if it truly means what it says about loving us despite disliking our actions…..sure could win some brownie points with this gay atheist if a lot of nuns, priests, and friars voluntered for vaccine trials.

    PS Great news yet sad that so few responded to it

  3. Becks07 says

    RE: Few responses here…

    What did you expect? Did AIDS father Anna Nicole’s baby? Did AIDS just sign to play for the LA Galaxy? Did AIDS tear down the Fire Island Pines? Jeez…

  4. dgelman says

    Sad to say, GP120 (the protein they are talking about) has been a known target for the virus for a long time. I think the failed prior vaccine was targeted at it. Generally, it mutates to fast (even in one person) that it was too much of a moving target to attack. Maybe they’ve found a specific location on it that doesn’t change much. It’s hard to tell from this article.

  5. Fred says

    I applaud any priests and nuns that volunteer in trials for an AIDS vaccine. They live surrounded by a homophobic culture, even though a large percentage of them are gay. Garry Wills, in his book “Papal Sins,” quotes a study that suggests that 50% of priests and as many as 70% of seminaries are gay. Another poll of hundreds of priests revealed that for gay priests, their average number of sexual partners was 255, and 22% of them had over 500 sexual partners. Somewhere between 800 and 2,000 priests have died of AIDS. They will clearly be among some of the first to benefit from an HIV vaccine.

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