In the news for over 20 years, HIV/AIDS is a continuing story with many aspects. One of them is the failure of scientists to develop an AIDS vaccine. Now, researchers have pinpointed a primary obstacle to achieving success, according to study findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and reported by HealthDay News.

After conducting tests with mice, researchers discovered B cells (produced by the immune system) with the potential to make antibodies against HIV. (HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.) The bad news is that the immune system regards these cells as intruders and destroys them.

But there is an up side to this downbeat story.

“The good news is that while about 85 percent of the ‘right’ kind of B cells are eliminated, about 15 percent survive and wind up in circulating blood, but are turned off,” said Laurent Verkoczy, study author and an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center. “One goal in vaccine design may be to figure out how to wake them up so they can go to work.”

Researchers intend to perform additional mouse studies to find ways to coax the immune system into allowing production of antibodies that can block HIV.

Visit RH’s sister website to learn more about AIDS vaccines.