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New chemically-activated antigen could expedite development of HIV vaccine

Scientists working to develop a vaccine for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) report they have created the first antigen that induces protective antibodies capable of blocking infection of human cells by genetically-diverse strains of HIV. The new antigen differs from previously-tested vaccines by virtue of its chemically-activated property that enables close sharing of electrons and produces strong covalent bonding. Researchers used a mouse model to generate the antibodies. The report by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is online and will appear in a print issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry in November.

"The complexity of HIV has for long thwarted development of an effective HIV vaccine. Our findings open a new path toward an effective preventative and therapeutic vaccine," said Sudhir Paul, Ph.D., the study's senior author and a professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "The new antigen is a prototype vaccine. This prototype successfully eliminates nature's restrictions on the production of broadly-neutralizing antibodies to HIV by the immune system."

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