Tuesday October 22, 2019

Scientists hopeful of ‘full-length single chain’ AIDS vaccine

0
//
www.pbs.org

NewsGram Staff Writer

Robert Gallo, the scientist who first proved in 1984 that HIV triggered the disease AIDS, is again all set to begin the trial of its vaccine in the US. The vaccine which has been developed over the past 15 years by Gallo is a little different and is expected to bear fruitful results.

The initial phase, involving 60 volunteers, will test the safety and immune responses of the vaccine. This study will reveal whether the vaccine is more effective than the other 100+ AIDS vaccines that have been tested over the last three decades. Extensive testing on monkeys have yielded positive results.

Despite the presence of potential vaccines, the challenge with AIDS is that HIV directly infects white blood cells (RBC) called T-cells, so it literally turns our immune system against us. So, once the virus enters a T-cell, it’s invisible to the immune system.

The sole possibility to combat the threat is to pump in antibodies against the HIV surface proteins. However, doing so is equally difficult owing to the fact that the retrovirus can regularly change its viral envelope to hide particular surface proteins.

But Gallo and his team at the Institute of Human Virology in USA believe that they may have now found a moment when the HIV surface protein, known as gp120, is vulnerable to detection – the moment the virus binds with our bodies’ T-cells.

When HIV infects a patient, it first links to the CD4 receptor on the white blood cell. It then transitions, exposing hidden parts of its viral envelope, which allow it to bind to a second receptor called CCR5. Once HIV is attached to both these T-cell receptors, it can successfully infect the immune cell. at this stage, it is impossible to stop its juggernaut.

Gallo’s “full-length single chain” vaccine contains the HIV surface protein gp120, engineered to link to a few portions of the CD4 receptor. The motive is to fuel antibodies against gp120 when it is already attached to CD4 and is in a vulnerable transitional state. The aim of the whole process is effectively stopping it from attaching to the second CCR5 attachment.

Gallo himself admitted to Jon Cohen over at Science that full-length single chain vaccine is a “terrible name”.

The trial is being run in collaboration with Profectus BioSciences, a biotech spin-off from the Institute of Human Virology, and Gallo explained that extreme thorough testing on monkey and getting the fund to develop a human-grade vaccine have resulted in a delay to get to this point.

“Was anything a lack of courage?” he asked Science. “Sure. We wanted more and more answers before going into people.”

Let’s hope that caution pays off, and we may finally have a viable contender for an AIDS vaccine on our hands.

(With inputs from www.sciencealert.com)

Next Story

AI and Digital Marketing are Key Skills to Boost Growth: Study

Skilled employees will continue to be the biggest asset for any organization going ahead and while options like lateral hiring and outsourcing may help in the short term

0
AI
Skilled employees in AI and Digital Marketing will continue to be the biggest asset for any organization going ahead. Pixabay

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), digital marketing and design thinking are the top skills that organisations will need to focus on to drive future growth, according to a new study.

Despite the increased awareness around upskilling, the survey by ed-tech company Great Learning found that 47 per cent of the companies surveyed have still not assigned budgets for upskilling their workforce.

“The technology skill gap among employees is one of the biggest challenges that organisations in India are beset with,” Hari Krishnan Nair, Co-founder, Great Learning, said in a statement.

“Skilled employees will continue to be the biggest asset for any organization going ahead and while options like lateral hiring and outsourcing may help in the short term, from a cost and effectiveness point of view, upskilling is the best way to stay competitive in the long run,” Nair said.

AI
AI and ML, digital marketing and design thinking are the top skills that organisations will need to focus on to drive future growth. Pixabay

As per the survey, that involved more than 300 companies ranging from small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) to large organisations, 25 per cent of all companies believe AI and ML are the most crucial skills needed to ensure an organisation’s future growth.

Digital marketing emerged second with 19 per cent finding it most crucial. It was followed by design thinking, which 10 per cent of companies indicated as most important.

ALSO READ: New Google Pixel 4 Face Unlock Works even if Eyes are Closed

Apart from these, skills related to Internet of Things (IoT), robotic process automation (RPA), and natural language processing/generation (NLP/NLG) emerged as important skills in responses from the surveyed organisations. (IANS)