Researchers have claimed that they have discovered two antibodies that can neutralize over 90% of all known strains of the HIV virus. The NIH-led scientists have found the antibodies namely VRCO1 and VRCO2 , which can ward off most of the HIV strains from infecting human cells. The discovery is being labeled as a potential breakthrough in the ongoing efforts to develop a HIV vaccine and an antibody therapy to treat the disease.
The discovery is published in the July 9 issue of Science. The report also showcases how one of the antibodies prevents HIV.”The discovery of these exceptionally broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV and the structural analysis that explains how they work are exciting advances that will accelerate our efforts to find a preventive HIV vaccine for global use,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health. “In addition, the technique the teams used to find the new antibodies represents a novel strategy that could be applied to vaccine design for many other infectious diseases,” Fauci stressed in a statement.
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Two research teams, led by NIAID scientists Peter Kwong, Ph.D., John Mascola, MD, and Gary Nabel, MD, Ph.D, found that VRCO1 and VRCO2 were produced naturally and found in the blood of HIV-affected people. The team succeeded to isolate the antibodies with a new molecular device they had developed on own. The device zeroes in on specific cells that can drive antibodies fight HIV.
“We have used our knowledge of the structure of a virus — in this case, the outer surface of HIV — to refine molecular tools that pinpoint the vulnerable spot on the virus and guide us to antibodies that attach to this spot, blocking the virus from infecting cells,” explained Nabel. Mascola added that: “the antibodies attach to a virtually unchanging part of the virus, and this explains why they can neutralize such an extraordinary range of HIV strains.”