Mount Sinai Researchers Develop Novel Vaccine That Induces Antibodies That Contribute to Protection From HIV Infection

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have developed a novel vaccine consisting of DNA and recombinant proteins⸺proteins composed of a portion of an HIV protein and another unrelated protein.

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have developed a novel vaccine consisting of DNA and recombinant proteins⸺proteins composed of a portion of an HIV protein and another unrelated protein. This vaccine was tested in monkeys and was shown to induce antibodies similar to those associated with protection from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Researchers first identified a part of the virus which, when bound to antibodies, results in the destruction of the virus and of virus-infected cells. Then they designed a vaccine that would induce these types of antibodies. This approach to vaccine design is called “reverse vaccinology.”

The target identified by the researchers on the virus is called the V1V2 loop of the gp120 envelope protein. In studies of monkeys vaccinated with gp120 DNA and a combination of three novel recombinant proteins carrying the V1V2 region, antibodies were induced that display many different antiviral functions. These antibodies were of the type that had been associated with a reduced rate of HIV infection in previous human clinical trials, according to the study published in Cell Reports in July.

“Our lab, together with researchers from several institutions in the United States, has been working for more than a decade on a novel approach to developing a vaccine against HIV/AIDS,” said lead author Susan Zolla-Pazner, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “The vaccine we have developed is safe, in that it contains nothing that is infectious to the individual vaccinated. In the study now being published, we show that this novel vaccine induces the desired antibodies in monkeys, which suggests strongly that similar protective antibodies can be induced in humans and may play an important role in preventing HIV infection.”

Showing that a vaccine will induce antibodies in monkeys is important since it suggests that humans will react similarly. The successful production of antibodies in monkeys with the novel vaccine studied in this report indicates that the vaccine should move forward to first-in-human studies to determine if it is as safe, well-tolerated, and immunogenic as it was in monkeys.

About the Mount Sinai Health System 
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Schools”, aligned with a U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.

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