Researchers Report Exciting AIDS Development

vrco1

By Boyce Hinman

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that they have discovered two very interesting human antibodies that could lead to the development of an effective vaccine against the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

For decades a vaccine to prevent HIV infections has been like the holy grail of the AIDS research industry. But, so far, the search for an effective vaccine has failed.

HIV has mutated into many varieties and no one substance seemed able to kill very many of them. Now the NIH reports that the newly discovered antibodies appear to kill 91% of the known varieties of HIV. They feel that, with more work, these antibodies have the potential to lead to an effective vaccine.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in the National Institutes of Health said "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. 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."

Led by a team from the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC), the scientists found two naturally occurring, powerful antibodies called VRC01 and VRC02 in an HIV infected individual's blood using a novel molecular device they developed that hones in on the specific cells that make antibodies against HIV. The device is an HIV protein that the scientists modified so it would react only with antibodies specific to the site where the virus binds to cells it infects.

As noted above, the huge number of variations of HIV has so far made it impossible to come up with a vaccine capable of defeating HIV. However, scientists have discovered structures on the surface of the HIV virus which the virus uses to attach to healthy human immune system cells and then infect and destroy those cells.

As it happens, these particular structures have changed very little from one variety of HIV to the other. The two newly discovered antibodies are good at attaching to those structures on the virus. When they do that it makes it impossible for the virus to attach to and destroy healthy human immune system cells. And since these structures are largely the same for most varieties of HIV the antibodies appear to be effective at defeating most varieties of the virus.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, "The [new] antibodies were discovered in the cells of a 60-year-old African-American gay man, known in the scientific literature as Donor 45, whose body made the antibodies naturally. Researchers screened 25 million of his cells to find 12 that produced the antibodies."

You can see a copy of the NIH press release on this research here

Boyce Hinman is the founder of California Communities United Institute. He can be reached at www.calcomui.org or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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