PerspectiveHIV

The modern era of HIV-1 vaccine development

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Science  10 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6244, pp. 139-140
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac7800

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Summary

More than 30 years after the discovery of HIV-1, where are we in our quest to develop a vaccine that could prevent human infections and help stem the global HIV-1 pandemic? The truth is, unfortunately, that we are not yet close. Even at the laboratory bench, we do not have a vaccine that can induce cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies—the type of response likely needed to provide high-level protective immunity (1, 2). This goal of inducing neutralizing antibodies has proved especially intractable and remains a focus of HIV-1 vaccine researchers. A major culprit in this story is the structurally complex surface envelope glycoprotein (Env) that mediates entry of HIV-1 into host cells (3). On pages 154, 191, and 156 of this issue, Sanders et al. (4), Chen et al. (5), and Jardine et al. (6), respectively, and another study (7), provide new insights into the nature of the HIV-1 Env trimer, its potential use as a vaccine, and how the humoral immune system generates antibodies with the necessary characteristics to neutralize HIV-1.