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The Scripps Research Institute and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a global nonprofit organization, today announced the establishment of a new research center for AIDS vaccine researchers.

Biologists, virologists, chemists and immunologists at the new HIV Neutralizing Antibody Center, located at Scripps and linked to a network of research institutions in Asia, Africa and Europe, will develop vaccine candidates designed to elicit what are known as “neutralizing” antibodies against HIV to prevent infection by the virus.

Solid advances in the HIV antibody field have been made in recent years. Researchers have crystallized several broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV, determined their structures down to the atomic level and used the information to understand how each can potentially disable the virus.

The next step is to apply what they’ve learned to develop vaccines that will induce those disabling antibodies in people — the biggest challenge facing AIDS researchers today, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the AIDS Vaccine Initiative, in a release.

Most existing vaccines against other diseases also work by eliciting neutralizing antibodies.

DARRYN BENNETT

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