Genetic Fossils Used As Vaccine Targets for HIV
Because HIV infection activates naturally-dormant endogenous retroviruses (ERV) in human cells, Jonah Sacha will target T cells against these ERV antigens. Such targeting to eliminate HIV infected cells could be the basis for new host-directed vaccines. In this project’s Phase I research, Sacha and collaborators demonstrated that ERV-specific antibodies are specifically triggered by infection with an exogenous retrovirus like SIV or HIV. In Phase II, Sacha, now at the Oregon Health & Science University in the U.S., will investigate whether ERV-specific antibodies can block transmission of AIDS viruses in animal models, leading to their potential use as a therapeutic and prophylactic vaccine.