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Vaccine Strategies for Combined Targeting of Innate and Adaptive Immune Pathways

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A new strategy for an HIV vaccine

In the continuing fight against HIV, a European project is providing the basis for a long-awaited vaccine that will be more effective.


An effective vaccine against HIV has so far eluded researchers as candidate therapies need to be improved to stimulate the immune system for a broader response with greater magnitude. Current vaccines tend to target cellular immunity where stimulation of the immune response is based on only a few epitopes or sites recognised by the immune system. Recent research has highlighted that some innate immunity pathways can stimulate the adaptive immune system. The 'Vaccine strategies for combined targeting of innate and adaptive immune pathways' (Vacctip) project aimed to use this knowledge to trigger cellular immune responses and enhance the humoral or antibody-secreting reaction specifically. The Vacctip plan included the production of two new stimulants to target both non-specific and adaptive systems. The CD40L protein polymer binds onto antigen-presenting cells thus inducing many effects in both innate and adaptive immune pathways. The other, a protein bacterial flagellin has been shown to be an effective adjuvant for activation of the signalling cascade of activated T cells. The vector, a construct of the so-called Semliki Forest virus, an alphavirus, will also be designed to elevate immune responses. Human and mouse models will evaluate the effectiveness of the novel vaccines. Both non-specific and adaptive immune responses, in particular effects on T and B cell-induced reaction to specific antigens, will be monitored. Development of an effective HIV vaccine has been hampered for decades by the nature of the virus and the disease. Vacctip research has no doubt provided a firm, sustainable platform for the continuing research initiative against HIV.

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