issues and experts

Creation of HIV vaccine closer with new method of eliciting antibodies

December 01, 2017

Researchers are closer to developing an HIV vaccine by unlocking a key molecule responsible for developing antibodies—specific proteins that attack viruses and protect from infection.

Faculty of Health Sciences professor Ralph Pantophlet and collaborators in Austria and the U.S. have published a paper in Nature Communications that describes a new method of ‘tricking’ the immune system into reliably creating antibodies that can target HIV strains.

“We have identified a molecule that is similar to one found on HIV,” says Pantophlet. “When we inject this molecule into animals, it helps generate antibodies able to target the virus.”

Pantophlet says that the research requires further study before clinical testing on humans, but that the development is an important step to developing an HIV vaccine—which could happen within the next 10 years under ideal conditions.

The technique could also be applied to other viruses, or cancers, and develop new treatments.

Pantophlet can speak to the following topics:

  • The process of developing vaccines
  • How developing an HIV vaccine is different compared to other viral vaccines
  • How HIV's strain diversity is a challenge in comparison to most other viruses


Ralph Pantophlet, Faculty of Health Sciences, 778.782.8648,

Ian Bryce, University Communications, 604.773.8134,