Is a New Nano Particle Vaccine Discovered for HIV?
HIV is an extremely difficult virus to be considered as harmless. There is no cure for the disease AIDS caused by this virus. By 2009, there was a possibility for vaccine however.
Engineers from MIT reported of developing a vaccine for HIV and malaria using Nano particles. The results of their study were published in February 2011 issue of the journal Nature Materials. The Gates Foundation, Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health funded this study.
How Vaccines Work?
The protection strategy of vaccines is by exposing the body to a pseudo threat and there by provoking an enhanced response from the natural defense mechanism, the immune system. The pseudo threats can either be dead foreign particles or laboratory-prepared chemicals released by the pathogens.
On injecting these vaccines, two main immune system cells get activated. They are the T cells and the B cells. While the T cells seek and destroy the foreign threats, the latter prepare antibodies which defend the system from the harmful toxins released by the viruses.
What is the Challenge Before HIV Vaccine?
The challenge with HIV is that these cells affect by entering inside healthy cells. To prepare a vaccine for HIV, the T cells should be made to confront killed or disabled HIV viruses. As of now, there is no mechanism in place by which scientists can take the chance of sending these extremely potent viruses live inside the body to provoke response from T cells.
As an alternative for this approach, researchers are working on finding synthetic chemicals which can serve the same purpose. But, though they are safer, response generated by them in T cells is partial. To enhance the response, a new approach was developed of encasing the virus proteins inside fatty droplets called liposomes. Though the trick worked, the liposomes could not hold their structure in tact in the blood and bodily fluid.
What the Research Study Involved?
The researchers of the present study succeeded in increasing the stability of the droplets by fusing two or more of them. The walls of the adjacent droplets joined together increasing the stability of the vaccine while in travelled in the blood stream. However, on reaching the target, the liposomes broke down quickly and delivered the synthetic protein inside the target cells effectively.
When three low dosage trials were carried out on experimental mice, it was observed that the efforts enhanced the T cells response by 30 percent.
Conclusion: Though the researchers warrant further studies on this topic prior to human trails, the break through they achieved might have immense potential in coming days to address HIV.