A new research has revealed that an experimental HIV vaccine may prevent infection from dozens of strains of the virus.
According to the researchers, the vaccine creates antibodies that attack a vulnerable site of the virus, neutralising several strains of it.
The research was conducted at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health.
Current treatments for HIV require patients to take several different drugs that control the virus from multiplying and spreading.
But, if successful, this would be the first vaccine available that protects people from contracting HIV.
Researchers have discovered that naturally occurring antibodies can prevent multiple strains of the virus from infecting human cells.
The trouble has been that half of all people living with HIV make these antibodies, and only do so after several years of living with the virus.
Scientists have pinpointed the sites, or epitopes, on HIV, where these antibodies bind to prevent the virus.
The study saw researchers looking at an epitope called the HIV fusion peptide, a short string of amino acids that sits on the surface of the spikes that the HIV virus uses to bind to the cells it infects.
According to the scientists, they chose this epitope because its structure is the same among most HIV strains and the immune system generally makes a strong response to it. They created several different immunogens in order to make the vaccine.
In the process, they discovered that the best immunogen that evoked a strong immune response was a protein consisting of eight amino acids.
The researchers tested several combinations of the injection on mice infected with HIV and looked at how the antibodies worked.
After the antibodies attached to the fusion peptide epitope, they neutralised as much as 31 percent of viruses from a panel of 208 HIV strains.
The same results were rendered after the scientists also tested the process in guinea pigs and monkeys. The researchers hope to begin preliminary human trials of the new vaccine regimen by mid-2019.