Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against HIV is a holy grail in the efforts to develop an HIV vaccine. The HIV envelope trimer, the target of both bnAbs and strain-specific neutralizing antibodies, is heavily glycosylated and has an antigenic surface that varies significantly among different HIV isolates. Therefore, vaccine elicitation of bnAbs using stable trimer immunogens that mimic native spikes presents major challenges. Potent HIV bnAbs are typically highly mutated and their germline-reverted forms typically show little or no reactivity to wild-type HIV antigens. Thus, key barriers to bnAb elicitation include activating bnAb precursor B cells and guiding bnAb maturation. With the ultimate aim of developing a vaccine that consistently induces potent bnAbs in humans, we are pursuing a strategy to develop germline-targeting priming immunogens to initiate bnAb development, following by structure-guided boost immunogens to shepherd B cell maturation to the development of bnAbs.
Scripps Research Institute