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November 29, 2016

New HIV-Killing Antibody Could Lead To Vaccine

WASHINGTON, D.C.—According to an article in the scientific journal Immunity, the National Institutes of Health has isolated a new antibody, dubbed "N6," from an HIV-positive patient, which was able to neutralize 98 percent of all of the HIV strains with which it was put in contact, including strains which had defeated previous antibody attempts to kill the virus. "N6 was tested on 181 different strains of HIV and destroyed 98% of the samples, including 16 out of 20 strains immune to other antibodies of its class," wrote science journalist Alexandru Micu. "For comparison, VRC01 [a similar antibody] is only effective against 90% of HIV strains. N6 brings not only a wider scope but also much greater potency, the researchers report." One of the main problems with finding a cure for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is that once it enters the body, besides attacking that body's immune system, it also displays the ability to adapt rapidly to any organism or chemical used against it, preventing those potential virus-killers from being long-term solutions to the infection. However, "N6 evolved such that its binding was relatively insensitive to the absence or loss of individual contacts typically found in the VRC01 class," according to the 35-member research team which conducted the experiments. "So far, N6 has only been tested in lab settings," Micu warns. "Until the results can be re-created in vivo on live human trials, the team recommends we remain cautiously optimistic." The abstract for, and link to, the full research paper, "Identification of a CD4-Binding-Site Antibody to HIV that Evolved Near-Pan Neutralization Breadth," can be found here. Pictured: The HIV virus.

 
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