A Boost for HIV Vaccine Design

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Science  13 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5993, pp. 770-773
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194693

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A major roadblock to the development of an effective vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is the lack of an immunogen that elicits broadly protective antibodies (1). Passive transfer studies in animal models have associated protection with neutralizing antibodies and, encouragingly, serum studies show that a subset of HIV-infected individuals produces potent broadly neutralizing antibodies (2). Understanding the viral targets of such antibodies and how they achieve potent and broad neutralization has become a key endeavor in HIV vaccine research. On page 856 of this issue, Wu et al. (3) describe the isolation of particularly potent monoclonal broadly neutralizing antibodies using a novel selection strategy, and on page 811, Zhou et al. (4) solve the crystal structure of the most effective of these antibodies in complex with its target gp120, a viral envelope glycoprotein. These studies further invigorate the currently active field of discovering broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV (2, 57) and provide valuable molecular information for rational vaccine design.