Gary Nabel on recent breakthrough in AIDS vaccine research
Researchers are closer than ever to finding a vaccine that prevents AIDS. That’s what Gary Nabel told us. He’s director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland. He said the AIDS virus, also known as HIV, has been so difficult to stop because it mutates
at a dizzying
Gary Nabel : There are millions and millions of strains
of the AIDS virus. The AIDS virus is remarkable for their repeatity, with which it can change its genetic structure.
He said most people infected with the AIDS virus mount an immune defense – that is, produce antibodies – that knock out only a few strains of the AIDS virus. But, in July 2010, Dr. Nabel reported in the journal Science that his team had identified several rare, broad-acting antibodies, the most powerful of which could attack or neutralize 90% of strains. These antibodies were found in the blood of a patient living with AIDS, known as Donor 45.
Gary Nabel Knowing that a human is capable of making those antibodies really gives us some optimism
He explained that powerful antibodies can serve as a kind of template
to build a vaccine around. Nabel estimated that a publicly available AIDS vaccine is still at least 10 years away.
Gary Nabel: For an AIDS vaccine for many years we’ve been driving around in the dark without a map, and I now I think we’ve got some very sophisticated tools that give us direction.