U.S. researchers have discovered two powerful antibodies that can neutralize more than 90% of all known strains of the HIV virus in the lab, according to new research by National Institutes of Health scientists. And another new study has possibly discovered a vaginal gel that can block transmission of the AIDS virus by half.
In the first study, the antibodies, known as VRCO1 and VRCO2, prevent most HIV strains from infecting human cells, a potential breakthrough for advancing HIV vaccine design, and antibody therapy for other diseases.
The study is published in the July 9 issue of Science.
"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.
At the end of 2006, around 1.1 million people in the U.S. were living with an HIV infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Globally, the number of people getting treatment for AIDS has increased twelve-fold since 2003, according to Aids2010.org.
The gel in the second study contains the AIDS drug tenofovir was tested over two years on women in South Africa and needs follow-up tests.
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