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publicado em 07/03/2011 às 13h00:00
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Brazilian scientists are advancing in development of HIV vaccine

The goal of the researchers from USP is that by the end of the year is possible to ensure the vaccine has a protective effect

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Foto: Arquivo/USP
Professor Edecio Cunha-Neto, coordinator of research
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Professor Edecio Cunha-Neto, coordinator of research

An advance toward a vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, occurs in research with the participation of the Faculty of Medicine, USP (FMUSP). The researchers created a model of vaccine that works in the immune response of target cells by HIV and in many parts of the virus, which showed similar characteristics to the highly protective vaccines. Tests on animal models at the Institute for Research in Immunology (iii-INCT), headquartered in FMUSP, are underway. The goal is that by the end of the year is possible to ensure the vaccine has a protective effect, in which case they could begin to be tested in humans.

Professor Edecio Cunha-Neto, who coordinated the research, says there is still no effective vaccine against HIV that can be used on a large scale. In almost all tests, there was low coverage, ie the immune response occurred in only a small fraction of patients who received the vaccine, says Professor at FMUSP. Even in people immunized, the degree of immunity achieved was weak. In 2007, a study showed that immune cells from vaccinated recognized only three small pieces of HIV, which was very little protection, due to constant mutations of the virus.

The studies sought to identify the shortcomings of the vaccines already tested and what characteristics are desirable for a more effective immunization. The immune response should reach a greater number of pieces of HIV, especially the parts preserved, not mutated, Edecio highlights. This response must be broad in each individual, even in a population with very different genetic characteristics, which determine which parts of the virus will target the immune response.

At the same time, there was the need to stimulate the immune cells from CD4-type T, which are target cells for HIV. The patient is infected with a low number of T-CD4, which leads to immunodeficiency, the professor says. The vaccines already tested focused on strengthening the CD8 T-cells that destroy HIV. However, if there is also stimulating CD4 T-group, it will support the T-CD8, increasing their defensive power.


From these findings, broke for a rational design of vaccine. They chose to share very conserved HIV to induce immune response and by a computer program, we identified the regions recognized by CD4, which can be recognized by T cells of people with multiple different genetic constitutions, says Edecio. In contact with blood cells from patients infected with HIV, the recognition reached 90% of patients, showing their effectiveness in being recognized by people with very different genetic constitutions.

The quality of the immune response of the vaccine was tested in two studies. The first, completed in 2009 by Susan Ribeiro, used four different types of mice, which served as models of human genetic variation. The second, directed by Daniela Santoro Rosa common in mice, we evaluated the immune response, its duration, the main characteristics and presents special qualities, the polyfunctionality. The results are described in an article published in PLoS One science Web site last February. The work was supported by the Foundation for Research Support of São Paulo (FAPESP), Ministry of Health and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).

Although the vaccine appears highly protective characteristics of vaccines such as smallpox and yellow fever, Vera says, still can not tell if it has a protective effect. Typically viruses attack a single species, and HIV does not infect mice, he explains. To check the protection will require testing in animal models that allow infection.

The tests are conducted in rhesus monkeys that are infected with SIV, the HIV virus originated, and altered mice that have immune system similar to that of humans. The experiments are in progress and is expected later this year will confirm the existence of a protective effect, allowing for future human trials, plans Edecio. The experimental vaccine, fully designed, engineered and developed by a Brazilian team, is protected by a patent in which the Zerbini Foundation, linked to FMUSP, USP and the Ministry of Health are the trustees.


Source: USP
   Palavras-chave:   HIV    AIDS vaccine    Target Cells    USP    FMUSP   
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