If you build it, they will come

Researchers are making progress in developing vaccine immunogens designed to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV. These antibodies develop in only a fraction of HIV-infected individuals, but are the sort of antibodies that many vaccine researchers think will be the most likely to ward off infection if they are induced through vaccination. In what some researchers are calling a “major advance,” three recently published research studies detail these advances and provide the first immunogenicity data in animals for two different types of immunogens. The first immunogens are those similar to the trimer outer Envelope protein of native HIV. The other is a so-called “germline-targetting” immunogen that is engineered to induce the earliest precursors of a specific class of  bNAbs.


This is just one of the stories in the latest issue of IAVI Report, published online this week.

Another story features conversations with six prominent female AIDS researchers about their long journeys battling HIV and their determination to make a difference. Some recall the earliest days of the pandemic when treatment wasn’t available and researchers were just beginning to unravel the mystery of this new human retrovirus.

“It was a tragedy and a very fearful time,” the Kenya-based, physician-clinician Nelly Mugo tells IAVI Report. “There was so much ignorance even among health care providers. There were some who were afraid to treat people and people died from the stigma associated with AIDS.”

The latest IAVI Report also provides an update on recent advances in HIV cure research as seen through the eyes of esteemed researcher Steve Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco, as he navigates the recent Keystone Symposium on HIV Persistence: Implications for a Cure. 

- Kitta MacPherson is a writer for VAX and IAVI Report in New York and an award-winning science journalist