The year ahead in science
Sydney Morning Herald, 4 January 2015 (cr. Los Angeles Times)
Microbiologists say that new insights into the structure of HIV’s protein spikes — the weapons the virus uses to enter host cells — have raised hopes for a vaccine. If they are right, it would be a major victory against the virus that causes AIDS.
In the last few years, scientists have realised that some AIDS patients have developed broadly neutralising antibodies that are not fooled by HIV’s infamous ability to camouflage itself. In October, researchers at Yale School of Medicine and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases showed that these antibodies were able to attach to HIV spikes and disable them.
“Personally, working in the HIV vaccine field for 16 years, I have never been so positive,” said Rogier Sanders, a Cornell University microbiologist who studies the spikes but was not involved in that research. “I think the coming year will see some major steps forward thanks to this.”
Here’s my prediction:
The year ahead in January 2016 will speculate, “Could this be the year of the AIDS vaccine?”
In Categories in the left-hand column of this blog, select “vaccines”, and then note 30 blog posts about predicted advances and progress that never eventuated.
Coming up is the thirtieth anniversary of Robert Gallo’s prediction, in April 1984, that a vaccine would be ready in a couple of years’ time.