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Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Quarterly, Fall 2002
Stalking the AIDS Virus
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Vaccine Requirements

To fully protect against HIV infection, a vaccine should contain a viral protein or proteins that can evoke protection against all viral strains—at least in a given locality. In addition, both arms of the immune system must be activated by this engineered consensus vaccine, resulting in the production of antibodies (Y) and cytotoxic T cells (C) capable of attacking the virus when it is transmitted to an uninfected vaccinated individual. Antibodies attack the virus in the blood and other tissue fluids (and by other mechanisms), while cytotoxic T cells attack a virus that has already invaded cells—by killing those infected cells. This infected-cell killing is crucial because even if all detectable virus could be removed from the blood by antibodies (or by drug therapy), the persistence of infected cells would mean that the individual was still actively infected—and viruses would likely reappear in the blood at some later time.

To fully protect against HIV infection, a vaccine should contain a viral protein or proteins that can evoke protection against all viral strains—at least in a given locality. In addition, both arms of the immune system must be activated by this engineered consensus vaccine, resulting in the production of antibodies (Y) and cytotoxic T cells (C) capable of attacking the virus when it is transmitted to an uninfected vaccinated individual. Antibodies attack the virus in the blood and other tissue fluids (and by other mechanisms), while cytotoxic T cells attack a virus that has already invaded cells—by killing those infected cells. This infected-cell killing is crucial because even if all detectable virus could be removed from the blood by antibodies (or by drug therapy), the persistence of infected cells would mean that the individual was still actively infected—and viruses would likely reappear in the blood at some later time.

 

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